Local Storm Chaser Shares His Hurricane Dennis Story

Storm chaser Shawn Johnson and his vehicle were parked outside the Imax theater in Tallahassee on June 30. He experienced the 2004 season firsthand.

Shawn says, "Last year was the first year I started doing hurricanes. As you can see, we had a good year for my luck. For others, it wasn't so good."

Just two short weeks after his trip to Tallahassee, Shawn was enroute to intercept Hurricane Dennis.

Shawn says, "Between Tallahassee and Pensacola, there are no gas stations open. All the gas ran dry this morning."

At 7 o'clock Sunday morning he arrives in Gulf Breeze.

Shawn says, "We are in Gulf Breeze, which is roughly 30 miles from the eye wall. They're talking Mobile Bay, somewhere in that area."

Later Sunday morning, Hurricane Dennis makes a slight change in track. It forces Shawn to backtrack.

Shawn says, "The storm has taken a jog to the north. It's looking to hit 30 miles to our east, so we'll head on back that way. Hopefully, it won't jog back to the northwest."

It didn't, and now Shawn is closing in on the wrath of Dennis. The winds continue to increase. You can hear Dennis' ferocity. Dennis then moves inland and decays, but for storm chaser Shawn Johnson, it's a start to another energetic hurricane season.

Preliminary estimates show that Dennis was also responsible for nearly a 10 foot surge that struck Wakulla and Franklin Counties.


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