By K5KVN, on the scene
DAYTON, Ohio — The words on his hat proclaim him a “weather nerd.” But after attending 11 storm spotter forums back-to-back yesterday at the Dayton Hamvention, his friends call him “a hero” and “an example for us all.”
Dan Barlinghouse says he arrived at Hara Arena at 6:45 a.m., just in time to get a good seat in the first storm spotter class of the day. “I like to sit in the front row because the tornado in the video looks like it’s coming right at you!” he said.
“After the first class ended, I guess I was so mesmerized that I didn’t get out of my seat. A few minutes later, the room filled up again and the second class started,” said Barlinghouse.
His friends began to worry when he didn’t show up for the famous “Gravy Boat Anchor” breakfast at 8:30 a.m. in room 104. “Derrick never misses this thing. The sausage links are his favorite!” said Robert Rangleton. “After we finished our hash brown casserole, we went to the forum room to look for him.”
As the next class shuffled in, Rangleton said they found him in his front row seat, fixated on the “What To Report” section of the official spotter’s manual. “He said he was learning a whole lot and he’d catch up with us later at the Icom table.”
But, Barlinghouse didn’t meet them at the Icom table. He says he didn’t leave the room at all that day, skipping meals and bathroom breaks.
As the 11th and final spotter class of the day was getting underway at 6:00 p.m., Barlinghouse was noticeably shaking and weak. At one point, it looked as though he was headed for the door. Despite pleas from onlookers that he leave the room, he slowly turned back toward his seat, waving off offers of food, drink and a chamber pot.
Medical personnel confirm he was carried out of the room at 7:00 p.m., dehydrated and incoherently muttering the words “wall cloud,” “nickle-sized hail,” and “rear flank downdraft.”
“To me, what he did was a commitment that should be an inspiration for all of us here,” says Rangleton. “I mean, those classes are always the same. So to have the endurance do it 11 times in one day… that’s a big deal.”
Crowds outside the arena apparently agreed, cheering as Barlinghouse was loaded into an ambulance.
When asked why he did it, Barlinghouse says, “What can I say? When I’m out there and all hail breaks loose, I need to know that stuff!” he said.
He is in a Dayton hospital and expected to make a full recovery.