Robert Krier has been fascinated with weather since early childhood in Los Angeles, where the rare thunderstorm was always a thrill. He studied meteorology at San Diego State University and considered a career in the field. Instead, he settled on journalism. He's been working for newspapers for 30 years, the last 25 at U-T San Diego, formerly the San Diego Union-Tribune.
In 1999, Krier persuaded the editors at the paper to send him on a tornado-chasing travel story. He drove nearly 4,000 miles through the Midwest with a chasing tour company. He saw two tornados, hail the size of baseballs, and magnificent thunderstorms that put to shame the comparatively weak storms of his youth. He also saw firsthand nature's destructive potential. The tour visited the devastated town of Moore, an Oklahoma City suburb that had been hit days before. That twister had winds estimated in excess of 300 mph, still considered the fastest naturally occurring winds ever recorded.
The trip rekindled his weather fascination, and he's been writing about weather and climate issues ever since. On a trip to the Oregon coast, where storm lovers often hole up to revel in violent winter storms, he was nearly blown off a bluff by a 64-mph gust.
Krier has written about big-picture issues: climate change, El Niño and La Niña and other major forces that can affect weather and climate. But he's into the small-scale, everyday stuff, too. He has a weather station in his backyard so he can remotely monitor wind, temperature and precipitation, and he's got a back-up rain gauge and a couple extra thermometers, just in case.