SOURCE: Prairie Pictures, Inc.

May 02, 2008 15:04 ET

News From Prairie Pictures: Veteran Storm Chaser Reflects on Two Decades of Work

ARLINGTON, TX--(Marketwire - May 2, 2008) - If you ever want to find a tornado, just ask veteran storm chaser Martin Lisius. He's your man. Lisius, a native of Texas, a place where more tornadoes occur than anywhere else on earth, has been tracking violent weather for more than two decades. He has conducted nearly 800 chases, prepared 2000 tornado forecasts, and has created several weather-related organizations.

"I grew up in Tornado Alley and was exposed to dramatic thunderstorms when I was a kid," Lisius said. "Nights were especially scary when thunder and high winds shook our home on a regular basis. It wasn't long before fear turned to interest."

Lisius began tracking storms in 1987. "I had to get out onto the open prairie to get a better look at storms, and what I saw was life changing," he said.

In 1991, Lisius shot and produced a documentary for public television titled, "Chasing the Wind." In 1994, he produced the video "StormWatch," which is utilized by the National Weather Service to train storm spotters nationwide. And, in 1995 Lisius produced the award-winning documentary "The Chasers of Tornado Alley," which details what a storm chaser does. "I made 'Chasers' to tell the real story about storm chasing," he said. "Accuracy, not dramatization, was the most important thing to me."

His independent television work beget a large collection of storm footage, including tornadoes, lightning and hurricanes. TV and film producers from around the world began calling Lisius for images. In 1993, he established the now highly-regarded StormStock, a collection of dramatic weather footage. Imagery from StormStock is licensed for use in television programs, commercials and feature films. Lisius is the collection's primary cinematographer.

Over the last two decades, Lisius has witnessed dozens of dramatic tornadoes, prolific electrical storms, has been pelted by blowing gravel and soaked by powerful hurricanes, including Katrina in 2005.

In 1993, he established the Texas Severe Storms Association (TESSA) to help educate the public about severe weather. TESSA became the host organization for the Texas Storm Conference which was renamed the National Storm Conference in 2006. The conference presents a series of presentations about tornadoes to storm spotters, forecasters, researchers and emergency managers from across the country.

Word spread about Lisius' work as a storm chaser and it wasn't long before people started calling him wanting to chase. "I wanted to help, but it's difficult for people to take off with little notice to go chase a storm," he said. "So, I created Tempest Tours, Inc. in 2000 as way ordinary folks could chase storms." The company, lead by Lisius and a group of professional storm chasers, hosts guests for 6 to 10 day tours each May and June. Their mission is to forecast and intercept tornadoes on America's Great Plains, and to share their knowledge of severe weather through a series of lectures while on the road. The highly-skilled team has intercepted 66 tornadoes since 2003.

"When I was little, I had this recurring nightmare that I was being chased by a tornado and couldn't get away," Lisius said. "Now I am chasing them, and it's a nightmare only when I can't catch them."

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