When the National Weather Service issued a Particularly Dangerous Situation tornado watch on May 25 last year, Terry Swails was in an unusual position: He could chase the storm - and not via a radar from the confines of a television newsroom.
He was in Iowa City that Sunday, coming home from a storm-chasing trip in Kansas during which he saw three tornadoes.
That Sunday storm produced the EF5 tornado that hit Parkersburg, Iowa - the strongest tornado in the state since 1968.
His wife Carolyn dissuaded him from chasing it - she'd had enough of storms - but for the first time in nearly three decades, Swails has been able to indulge his love of weather directly instead of through the technology of a television station. "When the storms came, I had to work," Swails said last week. "I was always inside."
On Monday, Swails returns to the airwaves after an 18-month absence, doing weather on WQAD's 6 p.m. weekday newscasts. It's a part-time gig, meaning that Swails can devote more time to the actual weather and to his Web site.
For WQAD, this is a bold partnership that will almost certainly erode KWQC's local-news dominance and could start a sea change. Channel 8 will allow Swails to directly promote TerrySwails.com on the air, and in exchange it will get the Quad Cities' most recognizable weather personality.