REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK, written by KAGS’s Jay O’Brien:
The costliest hurricane season in history ended Thursday.
After Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, our newsroom got to thinking about our Chief Meteorologist Bob French.
He guided our newsroom through Harvey, telling us stories about other hurricanes he’s covered and the talented meteorologists he’s covered them with.
We wanted to find those meteorologists, many of them Bob’s former interns, and ask them what they learned from Bob during those storms.
Bob and I spent hours brainstorming names and tracking them down. Eventually, we settled on two, both of whom work for our parent-company TEGNA. Ashley Batey, a meteorologist at WTSP in Tampa, FL and Patrick Vaughn, Chief Meteorologist at KBMT (Bob’s first TV station) in Beaumont, TX.
It was an interesting journey, full lessons, singing on the road, and Bob’s stories-- lots of stories. (You can watch all those moments in the video above, if you’re so inclined).
“I remember when Bob was young,” Patrick Vaughn told us. He used to shadow Bob in the 1980’s, during high school. “Preparedness is one of the things I learned from Bob.”
Beaumont and Port Arthur took a great deal of rain from Harvey. There was widespread flooding. Journalists at KBMT said they turned to Vaughn for guidance.
“Bob allowed me to see that its not always what the models say,” explaining how he was able to navigate covering Harvey.
“People a lot of times will take their cues from you,” said Ashley Batey about what Bob taught her. She said he taught her to stay calm on camera and just deliver her forecast.
“That’s one thing I tried to teach every intern,” replied Bob.
There’s a lot more to this story, just as there’s a lot to Bob French. He’s Mr. Weather (meteorologists we talked to described him as Mr. Tropical Weather).
He said he’s always loved it. He tracks the memories in his life by the hurricanes they coincide with.
We set out to figure out what, if anything, younger meteorologists learned from Bob. But, in the process, we gained a deeper appreciation for Bob. The kind you can only get when talking to friends who haven’t seen him in a while; people who missed him and people who credit him with their success.
We hope you enjoy the story.