An Iowa City, Iowa team is following a severe weather system from Iowa through Oklahoma and into Texas today.
The group is led by Meteorologist Terry Swails, of KGAN-TV CBS 2 and KFXA-TV Fox 28, according to Producer Morgan McHugh.
“We have a crew out there doing storm chases right now,” she said. “We have a meteorologist, trained spotter and reporter, and a couple of other spotters not affiliated with our company.”
Swails was born and raised in Iowa City and has been a television meteorologist in the Midwest since early 1977. He began his broadcasting career at KWWL-TV and has also been employed by KDUB-TV, KWQC-TV, and WQAD-TV, where he has been the prime time meteorologist for the last five years.
In addition to his television duties, Swails produces forecasts for the Quad City Times, a number of Quad City radio stations, and does work as a private consultant.
The Quad Cities is a region of four counties in northwest Illinois and Southeastern Iowa. The urban core consists of five principal cities: Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline in Illinois.
Swails spent a week with legendary forecaster Tom Skilling in search of tornadoes in 2010 and they saw their first tornado together outside Wakita, Oklahoma.
“He has a pretty large following in the Midwest,” McHugh said. “He does it once a year; the crew kind of changes. His wife is with them doing the blogging.”
While passing through Lawton, the crew found an abandoned litter of Labrador retriever-mix pups.
“As you may recall, we stumbled upon the little guys huddled together in a ditch near Lawton, Oklahoma,” Swails wrote on his website Thursday. “We’re are calling them our ‘Storm dogs.’ They are being cared for at the Lawton Animal Control Center. All seven of them have taken to the bottle which I’m told is great news. So the babies are getting stronger every day.”
After passing through Altus on Thursday afternoon, the storm chasers were headed to Childress, Texas, but that could change as quickly as the weather.
The crew hopes to send back information on strong thunderstorm activity with some great images of a super cell structure while Swails explains to followers what they are seeing.
“The goal of whole thing is to explain to people here how to keep your family safe,” McHugh said from Iowa City on Thursday. “They took off from here Monday and are kind of following a system that moved through the (Altus) area.”
This is not something for amateurs, McHugh said, but added the results are worth the risk before the team’s scheduled return Sunday or Monday.
“They’re trained,” she said. “It’s not like they’re running around into deadly winds, but if you can catch one on camera from far enough away — that’s pretty sweet.”
For more information visit McHugh’s station at www.cbs2iowa.com or Swails’ website at www.tswails.com.
Reach Eric Steinkopff at 580-482-1221, ext. 2072.