There's more I could tell you about Operation Irene and eventually I will. For now, just know that it was an invigorating way to spend a work week - a chance to break away from the soft news I so specialize in and get back to my storm-chasing roots. Weaver led the way this time with his uncanny acumen and limitless energy. Sheeka, too, proved herself quite the storm warrior, doling out cogent facts and commentary each and every time we pointed a camera at her - which was most of the time we were there. Countless live shots, dozens of packages, more tweets. Skypes and status updates than you can shake a dying iPhone at. Was Irene over-hyped? Not my call. But it was the first real hurricane in the age if social media and it all makes me wonder how we'll cover these storms just a few short years from now. One things' for sure: I'll fight to cover these signature whirlwinds each and every time they threaten our shore - if for no other reason than it leads to cinematic situations like this:
It was nearly dusk on Saturday by the time we saw the sun. Even then it was just a glimmer, a five minute break in the haze in which the Western sky exploded. I broke off a conversation with WRAL-TV's legendary shooter Robert Meikle and stumbled toward the orb. Loitering on the boardwalk there, I bathed in its beauty as a bundled figure approached. "That's somethin' ain't it?" I asked him and he agreed it was indeed celestial. We exchanged more warm words about the sun and as I stood there looking at it , I feel the young man staring at me. He leaned in close and with a grin said, "He-e-e-y, you ARE the Lenslinger!"
And that's how I met Ben McNeely.