In an ironic “twist of fate”....
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.
Depending on how you approach it, Severe Weather can mean life or death. Jeff has devoted his life to getting the message out, in real-time, of impending dangerous weather. In 1994 Jeff began working as a Sales Mgr. for Baron Critical Weather Intelligence. Baron is a world leader and innovator of critical weather radar, weather data analysis and distribution technologies. "Baron's mission is to ensure that every citizen, every nation, every business, and every family are protected by Critical Weather Intelligence." Working for Baron (22 years) continues to be a PERFECT fit for Jeff and for Baron.
It is no surprise, then, Jeff has become a storm chasing legend, documenting and filming well over 900 tornadoes, 24 Hurricanes, ice storms, wild fires and every extreme of mother nature. Jeff’s company, Storm Productions, holds the world’s largest private collection of historic weather events and survivors stories. 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” on Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and Piers Morgan.
-2012 Jeff was a presenter and consultant in the first 3D documentary covering winds, floods, avalanches, earthquakes and the Joplin EF-5 tornado. The US Documentary entitled "Forecast: Disaster". (National Geographic) The UK 3D version entitled "Storm City".
As an inventor in 1995, Jeff holds a patent for Method for Increasing Digital Data Throughput Over Telephone Lines. A fancy way of saying a method for sending video and images via cellular. Jeff continues to be on the cutting edge of technology and social media having utilized Twitters Periscope for Live Streaming Events and setting records with nearly a 100,000 unique viewers in one stream event as well as ❤︎ 3,840,110 likes and 40,000 followers.