WeatherHurricane Center


#HARVEY: Austwell weather observer, wife remember destruction

Measuring the powerful eyewall of a major hurricane
Posted at 7:39 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 21:14:47-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Dwight Mutschler, his wife Bonnie, their dog Copper have been Austwell residents for a long time. They know this area and the local weather pretty well.

When I asked him if he took his observation today, he excitedly said "oh yes, always. Seven o’clock."

He reports a high temperature of 90 and a low he considered remarkable -- finally, a morning temperature in the 70s.

Dwight is a volunteer weather observer for the National Weather Service-Corpus Christi Office. The Mutschlers were the eyes and ears of the National Weather Service during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

His observations during Harvey helped the weather service complete their damage survey in Refugio county.

"Our daughters were not happy that we stayed," Dwight said. "And we love it here, and that’s why we stayed basically. We wanted to protect what we had, and we did not want to be away and not be able to get back. That was a major decision right there why we stayed."

He said it got so loud that he and Bonnie has to yell in order to hear each other just four feet apart.

"A house had just disintegrated," Bonnie said. "Pieces of it had landed in this yard and out on the road."

Dwight said the storm left 18.60 inches of rain in his rain gauges by the time it was all done.

"It’s amazing, the destruction," he said. "Mother Nature is pretty powerful."

It was a harrowing experience, but they’re glad they stayed.

And whether it was the volunteers from Arizona who had never seen an alligator, or the barbecue made of everyone’s thawing freezer goods, the Mutschlers said the area became one big community of neighbors helping neighbors in the days after Harvey.

"Encountering some of the emergency people who were coming into town, we were at least able to tell them where people were and who needed to be checked on,” she said.

They both feel grateful for the Department of Public Safety, who Dwight said "went above and beyond what they needed to do."

But as far as staying again, Bonnie says one thing is sure.

"Even if we don’t stay again, there will be other people who stay again,” she said.

Dwight says it comes with the territory.

"We have to be aware that hurricanes do come," he said. "And they are going to come again. It’s just a matter of preparation. It’s just that simple.”

Dwight still takes his weather observation every morning. If you'd like to learn more about becoming a volunteer weather observer, click here.