He'd wander through the city and ask residents whether they would evacuate if a hurricane was on its way. He walked into a fast food restaurant and put the question to the young woman serving his soda.
She stared at him blankly. ''What's a hurricane?'' she replied.
''I still to this day wonder what happened to that girl,'' Lyons said.
With the memories of Katrina fresh, Lyons is preparing for the new hurricane season.
Katrina's devastation made most television networks more attuned to these storms' power, reflected in the stories already aired about hurricane preparation and preseason forecasts. The Weather Channel boosted staff and invested in new technology because of lessons learned last summer.
Lyons, 52, is the network's point person.
For a man who has devoted his life to some of nature's most severe storms, Lyons grew up in two of the most peaceful weather environments imaginable: San Diego and Hawaii. A surfer, he grew curious about hurricanes primarily because of the effect they had on waves.
Lyons came to the Weather Channel after doing media work at the National Hurricane Center.
He studies maps and computer simulations and is a near-constant on-air presence when the tropics are active.
Lyons likes to concentrate as specifically as he can on the physical effects of a hurricane: how high the storm surge will be in a certain area, what type of damage the wind will do.
''I always tell people at the Weather Channel, 'You pay me, but I work for the public,' '' he said.
The hurricane expert has personally experienced only one hurricane, when he was living in Houston. He was more annoyed than fearful, watching as water poured down the walls of his condo and calculating how much the roof repairs would cost.
He also once volunteered to enter a wind tunnel for a story on what it's like to experience the 160 mph winds of a Category 5 hurricane. Strapped into a harness, he couldn't move - and suffered a broken rib, two black eyes and blood blisters on his hands.
''It was just horrible,'' he said. ''It was one of the worst things I've done in my life.''
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