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Watching the weather watchers

Most people try to avoid deadly storms, but the makers of a new Canadian Geographic documentary on unpredictable squalls called "weather bombs" are actually chasing them.

"We became storm hunters," says Joanne Loton, an associate producer with Summerhill Entertainment, makers of the CG Presents film, which airs on the Discovery Channel this spring. "It’s difficult from a production point of view — we’re facing conditions that are the opposite of what camera people want."

Weather bombs form quickly and move faster than hurricanes, creating huge waves and high winds. They can arise when warm tropical storms collide with low-pressure ridges in the open ocean and are occurring with increasing frequency in the waters off Vancouver Island.

Inspired by "Storm coast" (Canadian Geographic, Nov/Dec 2002), which looked at Pacific storm chasers, "Weather Bomb" takes a closer look at the mysterious storms, those who love them and those who have barely survived them.

"The irony of these storms," Loton says, "is that you have visitors from all over the world travelling to B.C. to be close to their power and beauty, and then you have fishermen trying to outrun the storm and fighting for their lives and their ship. It’s a twisted slice of nature."

- Lindsay O'Reilly

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