Hurricane Chaser

This hurricane season seems like it's already gone on forever, but it still has nine weeks to go.

Most of us will be happy when it finally does go, but CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports that one man just can't get enough of hurricanes.

When all of Houston was running away from Hurricane Rita, one man was racing toward it.

Jay Carnes' hobby is chasing hurricanes.

"I'm measuring the wind," says Carnes as he watches himself on video holding a wind meter out the window. "At this point, I believe our gusts were somewhere around 85 miles an hour."

A few weeks earlier, he was in hot pursuit of Hurricane Katrina.

And there have been plenty of others over the years. His strategy is to take shelter in a parking garage and capture the fury on video.

"I don't understand why, but I want to see it, I want to be in the middle of it," Carnes says.

So anytime a hurricane heads toward the Gulf Coast, Carnes loads up his van to chase it.

"I take generators, I take chain saws, extra gasoline," he says.

At home, his wife, Lori, plots the hurricane's likely path.

"Jay has taught me how to look at the water vapors and the troughs and the things that pull the storms," she says.

Lori tries to guide him right into the hurricane's eye.

"OK, here comes the eye. Here comes the eye, baby, baby," he says.

On the road some say Jay may be cheating death, but back home – he is as comfortable in a room full of coffins as he is in a Category 5.

"I'm a funeral director, funeral home owner," he says. "We have cherry and mahogany."

"You don't have any intention of letting a hurricane put you in something like this?" Blackstone asks Carnes as they look at the coffins.

"No, I hope not. I'd go in a hard wood anyway," Carnes laughs.

When Carnes was a teenager growing up in Galveston, Hurricane Alicia blew through – and a storm chaser was born.

"I don't think I'm any different than anyone else other than I want to be there to see how it happens to begin with," he says.

Carnes says he knows how to stay safe in a storm – but Lori admits she worries.

"I guess in the funeral business, we always say that they die doing something that they love to do," she says. "And if I could stand up and say that, then that's what he loved to do."

And there's another saying: An ill wind blows no good. And this busy hurricane season has been good indeed for Jay Carnes.
  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter