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Tornado hunter storms Weyburn:

Weather chaser offers safety & photography sessions
Photographer Greg Johnson took this photo near Kelvington, SK last summer. This storm was part of the same system that produced a tornado in Raymore, SK last July.

Self-proclaimed "weather geek" and storm chaser Greg Johnson will be in Weyburn on March 26 to discuss how to stay safe during severe weather. A presentation that is meant to entertain as well as inform, the event will feature stunning photography of Johnson's storm chasing escapades over the past decade.

"It's more of an entertaining presentation rather than a warning," said Johnson. "I also talk a lot about tornado safety and preparedness."

Johnson said that with severe weather season just around the corner, now is the time for people to get the knowledge they need to stay safe. He said that the residents of Saskatchewan are not immune to tornadoes and dangerous storms.

"Last August a man from St. Brieux died while travelling back to Saskatchewan from Minot, just an hour south of Weyburn. He was hit by a serious tornado and the car was thrown 500 yards," said Johnson. "His son survived but the father died."

Johnson said that many people believe that extreme weather, such as tornadoes, does not affect people on the prairies.

"An F3 tornado hit Raymore, Saskatchewan and Kawacatoose First Nation last year on July 2, doing a lot of damage," said Johnson.

"Weyburn was at the centre of some pretty severe weather warnings last year," continued Johnson. "Yorkton was hit pretty hard and Saskatoon had major flooding."

He also discussed a tornado in Elie, Manitoba in 2007 that had one of the highest ever recorded wind speeds - 400 to 500 kilometres per hour.

Johnson knows first-hand how dangerous extreme weather can be. He has been chasing storms for a decade and has since turned his one-time hobby into a full-time job.

Once the owner of a commercial photography studio in Regina, Johnson now spends his time teaching and travelling around North America to pursue the perfect shot of a tornado or lightning storm. He spends the early part of the storm season in the southern United States and returns to the prairies in July to take summer storm photos and videos.

Johnson uses specialized photo and video equipment to record the storms he chases. He also employs GPS and on-board satellite radar, which interfaces with his laptop so that he can view the radar feed from both Environment Canada and radar sources throughout the U.S.

Johnson said that the worst situation he was ever in during one of his storm photographing sessions was during a tornado-warning storm in Carlyle in 2007.

"It was just so intense - the thunderstorm system," recalled Johnson.

In addition to storm safety, Johnson wants to teach people about the weather warning system in Canada and how it needs to be changed.

"In the U.S. you know four to five days in advance if severe weather is forming. In Canada, sometimes we don't know until after the event. There is no central database to collect information."

Johnson said that in Saskatchewan, the closest Environment Canada meteorologist is in Winnipeg, MN.

Johnson's trip to Weyburn will also include a two-day photography workshop, which will teach participants how to use their digital SLR camera to get the best results. The workshop teaches technical aspects, light exposure and advanced techniques such as night photography and storms, lightning, sports and studio shots.

Johnson also plans on attending the local high school during his visit to share some photography advice and knowledge with the school's yearbook club.

The presentation, "Tornado Hunting - Keeping communities safe during severe weather" will begin at 7 p.m. on the 26th. The workshop will take place on March 26 and 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Both events take place at the Tommy Douglas Centre.

Tickets for the presentation are $25 and can be purchased at the Co-op Food Store, Superior Office Products, Weyburn This Week, Signal Hill Arts Centre and at the door. Registration for the workshop can be obtained by contacting Johnson at 306-596-1815 or