MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

May 12, 2013

Weather aficionado is looking for trouble

When storms brew, he goes after them

— Gusty, the weather cartoon character, inspired Robert Atchley’s lifelong fascination with weather.

Atchley, 45, recalls watching Tulsa weatherman Don Woods draw Gusty on TV, when he was growing up.

“I always watched Don Woods because of Gusty,” Atchley said. “He made the weather friendly for kids. I would watch him draw, then I would go out and watch the clouds, watch the storms.”

A caring grandmother also prompted the boy’s fascination.

“Grandma Tatum, she was a very blessed woman,” Atchley said. “We’d sit on the back porch, and she’d teach me about the weather. She told me to watch the cattle and horses. She’d say, ‘The cattle are lying down, it’s going to rain.’ And I’d say, ‘No, they’re just tired.’ But she was always right.”

Atchley continues to watch the weather. Whenever a storm threatens, he gets in his 2004 GMC Sierra pickup and goes after it. He is one of 12 active volunteer storm spotters for the city of Muskogee’s Emergency Management Department.

“It’s nervous and exciting at the same time,” Atchley said. “There is a fear factor involved. You are protecting 40,000 citizens. The slightest movement, the slightest error in judgment, the slightest move might cause lots of casualties.”

Following the storms is just one way this Muskogee native finds excitement. He has done motocross and drag racing. He goes skydiving.

“I try to do that twice a year,” he said. “But my biggest passion is rock ’n’ roll music. I go to a lot of concerts. My favorite band has to be Tesla, one of those 1980s hair bands.”

Meet Robert Atchley

AGE: 45.

HOMETOWN: Muskogee.

CAREER: Maintenance technician at Muskogee Police Department.

EDUCATION: Attended Tony Goetz Elementary until sixth grade. Graduated from Friendswood, Texas, High School, 1986.

FAMILY: Daughter, Caitlyn Nicole.

CHURCH: Timothy Baptist Church.

HOBBIES: “Besides all the racing, my biggest hobby has to be fishing and traveling to rock concerts.”

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