Video by Christina Vessa.
The echoing voices and whispers in the University Center of the Arts’ Griffin Hall came to a halt as Al Roker, weatherman extraordinaire and television personality, made his way on stage, greeting an eager audience.
“Today Show” meteorologist and nine-time author visited Colorado State University Saturday afternoon to speak about his latest book, “The Storm of the Century,” a story about the hurricane that destroyed Galveston, Texas, in 1900.
Photo credit: Christina Vessa.
The event was ticketed, and there are often fees associated with authors coming to campus. However, Roker visited free of charge.
After Roker read a chapter of the book and the floor was opened up to the audience members to ask questions about anything, ranging from meteorology, storytelling, beginning his career and working on the “Today Show.”
From a journalistic perspective, Roker said he approached writing this book with preconceived notions, which, he argues, is not the best way to enter into the storytelling landscape.
“You (have) got to plan out what you’re going to do, but you also have to be open to changing course if you discover certain things (while) researching the story,” Roker said.
And that is exactly what happened as he began brainstorming this book about a year in a half ago. Originally, Roker had planned to write a book about Hurricane Katrina, seeing as the 10th anniversary of the deadly storm was approaching. However, during his research, he came across information and statistics of past storms that have devastated parts of the United States, and decided to go a different route in regard to record-breaking natural disasters.
The hurricane in Galveston took over 10,000 lives, many of which could have been saved, according to Roker.
“I wanted to look at other storms in comparison (to Katrina),” Roker said. “And when I saw the statistics from the 1900 hurricane in Galveston, it was like, ‘Wow.’ Even with everything that happened in (Hurricane) Sandy and Katrina, this was still the deadliest hurricane ever in U.S. history.”
Roker’s appearance was a part of the author series sponsored by the CSU Libraries and the Poudre River Friends of the Library. He was the second author to visit CSU so far this fall, after Jason Ramos, author of “Smokejumper.”
David Ramsay, director of strategic relations for the Morgan Library, said the library is working to bring a more diverse group of authors to CSU in the future. He also said that the programming staff may scale down how many authors they invite per semester.
Andrea Lapsley is the programming coordinator for the Morgan Library and was in charge of inviting the authors to this series. She started the series at CSU when she noticed authors do not come through Fort Collins often.
“There was a real gap for authors of all types — fiction, nonfiction, all different genres,” Lapsley said. “So, we started this partnership about five or six years ago with the public libraries.”
Collegian Reporter Zara DeGroot can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @zar_degroot.