Know Your Local Media: The Chron's Eric Berger on Hurricanes, Climate Change and Evacuating Katy

kylm-berger.jpg
Full disclosure: In 2000, I was working on a grassroots campaign supporting the arena referendum that passed and resulted in the building of Toyota Center. At the time, the Houston Chronicle's Eric Berger was covering the campaign, a less contentious follow-up to the loss suffered a year earlier that almost sent the Houston Rockets to Louisville.

Since that time, I've stayed in touch with Berger mainly because we both are nerds when it comes to weather, hurricanes in particular. Over the last five years, he has turned his SciGuy blog on Chron.com into one of the best science blogs on the Internet. He routinely deals with skeptics, science-bashers and people who think they should flee anytime there is a tropical storm in the Gulf (people in Katy during the mass evacuation of 2005 seemed particularly jumpy).

In many ways, Berger is the foremost authority on weather and science in our city and he's neither a weatherman nor a scientist. Here are his five, ultra-nerdy questions.

You started at the Chron doing general assignments, right? How did you get to the science desk?
I started as a GA reporter way back in 1998, and over time covered several beats including the business of sports, a hot topic with Enron Field and Reliant Stadium under construction, and the yet unbuilt Rockets arena still needing public approval. But I majored in astronomy and always wanted to cover science. So in late 2001, when the beat came open, I jumped at it. In a newsroom full of liberal arts majors, it wasn't exactly a hot competition.

My Voice Nation Help
5 comments
Mjessick
Mjessick

"the force applied by winds is the cube of wind speed" seems wrong. In aerodynamics, force resulting from moving air varies pretty clearly (just by dimensional analysis) by the square of the speed. The power relationship to wind speed _is_ to speed to the third power for vehicles moving in wind and machines like wind turbines, but that doesn't seem particularly important for analyzing ripping shingles off your roof.

David Houston
David Houston

I thought everyone was a Hurricane expert around here (with notional degrees in Meteorology from the School of Life, probably transferable for credits at HCC)...  At the end of the day, we should still run like hell from extreme weather.  2005 was actually quite a close call, Houston got off lucky that time around.  Then came Ike. During Ike, I watched (from a window) whole sheets of aluminum roofing being torn off and thrown about like sheets of paper.  It was terrifying to watch. In fact I filmed it, still have the digital clips on a disk. Never underestimate a Hurricane, and possible tornadoes, falling power lines, electrocution, flooding, a wall of water heading at you, and don't leave it too late to get out.  As too many people did on the Gulf coast during Ike, whole villages gone, and so are the people who stayed behind.  Board up your windows, pray your home survives the storm, because the City of Houston won't lift a finger to help you afterwards...  They'll say they will, and make it look like they will/did (and take the bows), but really they won't do anything.  In fact, as in my elderly mother-in-law's case, they might actually stick the taxes up on your Hurricane Ike damaged home by an astounding 17.5%, and another 15% the following year.  All calls ended the same way when they'd tell her there was no money to fix anything under Mayor Bill, try again under the next Mayor they said...  Well she did, and again the line was 'theres no money to fix anything', now it's changed to 'you don't live in the right area...'  Has anyone else actually tried phoning the numbers on the City website? Did you get anywhere with it? Well needless to say nothing happened, we now have no choice but to demolish her over-taxed Hurricane Ike-damaged home.

hunters
hunters

Eric has put together an amazingly good blog. On top of this he is a top notch journalist, willing to let people talk and dig for evidence. While I disagree with him on certain issues, I respect him for his thoughtful and professional approach. Even when he is wrong ;^)

PaulP
PaulP

The first thing I do every morning is make coffee. The second is walk my dogs. Third, I read Eric's blog. The only day I don't follow that routine is Sunday - for some odd reason he takes the day off, leaving mine feeling incomplete. I learn as much from some of the people who respond to his blogs as I do from the blog itself (I'm looking at you, JohnD). He also maintains a FB page, which he uses to comment on rapidly changing weather conditions affecting Houston: "Eric Berger: Sci Guy." Check it out.

big red
big red

" Today the scientific community's focus has shifted from physics to biology (evolution, stem cells) and environmental issues (climate change). These are less politically palatable topics, obviously." Thanks for clearly stating the politics as they now exist. It is sad that many economic conservatives are being pushed against their better judgment into being identified with nut jobs like Ted Cruz. At some point these people (hello Dan Patrick) will be leading a group of drooling mouth breathers who will be unable to read their campaign literature.

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...