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Experienced Storm Chaser Goes Silent as Dorian Hits Bahamas, Emerges Days Later

By Samuel Allegri

Josh Morgerman, a well-esteemed and experienced storm chaser, shared his experience before and after Dorian’s direct hit on the Bahamas.

He updated his then 80,000 Twitter followers (over 90,000 after re-appearing) on what he said was “by far the most intense cyclone I’ve witnessed in 28 years of chasing.”

“A whopping 913.4 mb in eye,” he wrote on Sep. 4 after the storm had passed, expressing that winds “tossed & mangled cars like toys.”

Millibars (mb) are a unit for measuring barometric pressure.

On my balcony on Treasure Cay in the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas. Gorgeous night. Seems inconceivable to me that a 130- knot hurricane is approaching,” he wrote on Aug. 31

At 10 p.m. the same day, he said it was “Warm & windy. Stars in the sky. I’d call it a nice night, but it’s nature’s deception—like putting nice curtains on the gates to hell.”

Morgerman reported that power went out at 1:17 a.m.

At 4 a.m., he recorded a video of himself updating his followers, showing that he was at a school in which he would later shelter. The school was a designated shelter. He said he would stay there because it would be closer to the path of the eye and also he thought it would be a little safer since it’s on a hill, allowing him to be above the storm surge. “That’s important to me, this hurricane is really serious, and I’m treating it carefully,” he said.

At 8:17 a.m. he wrote that the wind was getting scary. “I feel like a rocket is about to take off. Bandwidth down to almost nothing, so this is possibly the last you’ll hear from me for a long while. This is gonna get ugly,” he wrote.

At 11:15 a.m. Morgerman’s barometer showed him 978 mb. He added that he was just outside the eyewall and that he and six other people were in a concrete room with chairs blocking the door.

25 minutes later, the cyclone arrived at his location. “Pounding. CRASHING. Boards prying off windows. We’re moving children to a safe space, wrapping them in blankets,” he wrote.

Then his account went dark for two days, resulting in 55 hours of silence.

Hurricane-Dorian
An aerial view shows devastation after hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas on Sept. 3, 2019, in this image obtained via social media. (Michelle Cove/Trans Island Airways/via Reuters)

At least seven people died, and the number is expected to rise. The Bahamas suffered widespread catastrophic damage. A commentator on Twitter said that “there are no atheists in the eyewall of a Category 5 hurricane.”

Many people expressed their concern for Morgerman’s well being and sent prayers for him.

After the long silence, he reported to his followers, “Yep, I’m alive. Made it to Nassau … Thought I was playing it safe by riding it out in a solid-concrete school on a hill in Marsh Harbour. Thought wrong.”

Morgerman wrote that the school where he and others took shelter was largely destroyed. “Winds pounded the building with the force of a thousand sledgehammers. Crept out during eye to find school mostly destroyed, cars in parking lot thrown around & mutilated,” he wrote.

During the brief calm in the storm’s eye, Morgerman and others ran into the cars that were not destroyed and dashed to a stronger government building.

Cars sit submerged in water from Hurricane Dorian
Cars sit submerged in water from Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas, on Sept. 3, 2019. (Ramon Espinosa/AP Photo)

“There were so many people crammed in,” he told The Weather Channel. “You can’t imagine. There was hundreds and hundreds of people crammed into what was basically an office building.” He said that many of the people he was with were injured and bleeding.

An aerial view shows devastation after hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas on Sept. 3, 2019, in this image obtained via social media. (Michelle Cove/Trans Island Airways/via Reuters)