Jeff has become a storm chasing legend, documenting and filming well over 900 tornadoes, 24 Hurricanes, ice storms, wildfires and every extreme of mother nature.
More than likely you have watched Jeff’s footage in numerous productions on The Discovery Channel, National Geographic notably National Geographic Special “Witness: The Joplin Tornado”, The History Channel, TLC as well as all major news networks, Insurance Ads and PSAs. During a severe weather event, Jeff becomes a go-to source of real-time data and coverage for the media and the public.
If you were one of the 600,000 viewers watching Jeff’s heart pounding Hurricane Harvey footage on Periscope/Twitter you were in on the record-setting scope with replays of 1.6 Million. ❤︎ 19,793,171 likes and 86,780 followers.
In 1994 Jeff received an Emmy award for “Day of Tornadoes” for his coverage of the Gainesville TX F2 tornado. More than likely you have watched Jeff’s footage in numerous productions on The Discovery Channel, National Geographic notably National Geographic Special “Witness: The Joplin Tornado”, The History Channel, TLC as well as all major news networks, Insurance Ads and PSAs. During a severe weather event Jeff is a “regular guest” of Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and other local and national news broadcasts.
Devastating EF-5 Joplin Tornado
A Passion Borne from Personal Experience
Jeff Piotrowski at age 16, nearly lost his life to one of Tulsa’s worst flash flooding events on May 30, 1976. Jeff was employed with a local monument company, engraving tombstones. Jeff, his boss and the boss’ son were riding in the cab of the company 2 ton flat bed truck and trying to get home, to Broken Arrow a suburb of Tulsa, OK..
Afternoon turned to near dusk as floodwaters diverted their original route and they found themselves approaching the bridge near 31st st and Mingo Road. East Tulsa was in the throes of a 3 hour, 10 inch rainfall which was centered over the headwaters of Mingo Creek. The May 30, 1976 Flood killed 3 and resulted in over 40 Million –1976 dollars – of damage. Jeff’s boss felt he could make it across the bridge, a dangerous and potentially deadly decision. He did not realize how fast the water was rising. “In the U.S. floods kill more people each year than tornadoes, hurricanes or lightning.” During the attempt to cross the bridge, the water quickly engulfed the 2 ton truck. They climbed out of the windows onto the top of the cab, the situation was dire. Floodwaters rapidly poured in and, to their horror, over the cab. A heavy railroad tie caught in the raging current slammed into the cab knocking Jeff’s boss and his son into the terrifying black roaring abyss that was now Mingo Creek.
There was nothing left for Jeff to do except try and swim as hard as he could to somewhere. Jeff survived by grabbing onto a corner fencepost, surrounded by water and on the edge of a steep embankment. He watched helplessly as his boss and the boss’ son were swept down Mingo Creek. The first fire truck to arrive was no match for the rapidly rising and raging flood waters. The fire truck was engulfed with water and rendered useless as they attempted to rescue Jeff. Moments later a second fire truck arrived. The second fire truck held steady during the assist to pull Jeff from the water.
Jeff’s boss and son survived as well and were rescued further downstream. Almost drowning in a flood would send most people running from severe weather but it drove Jeff to find answers. To understand what varying elements come together to create such an event. Simply put, there was now a passion to understand the intricacies of severe weather like no other.