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Storm spotter wins bocce ball gold at Special Olympics Summer Games


Special Olympics athlete Blake Douroujalian poses with his medals at the Special Olympics Closing Ceremony May 31 in Kelly/Shorts Stadium. 

With gold and bronze medals draped around his neck and a Weather Channel baseball cap, Blake Douroujalian gave his forecast for the night and the following day. 

He said there would be heavy thunderstorms the night of May 31 following the Special Olympics Closing Ceremony at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. His prediction was spot on, as severe weather forced the running events onto Jack Skoog Track in the Indoor Athletic Complex at Central Michigan University on June 1. 

He has competed in bocce ball in both of the years that he has traveled to Mount Pleasant with Area 30, which is based in nearby Midland. This year he won two medals in bocce ball: a bronze and a gold. Dourojalian said his favorite part of Special Olympics is the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. 

Douroujalian said he is fascinated by extreme weather, with a major emphasis on hurricanes. He has a vast knowledge of the "big four" hurricanes that hit the United States in 2004: Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. 

Fittingly, his favorite meteorologist is The Weather Channel's popular extreme weather expert, Jim Cantore. 

"I've been watching the Weather Channel since I was 12," The 29-year-old said. "I love extreme weather." 

He loves extreme weather so much, he knows the exact day a given storm hit land, including the date and the day of the week, and all from memory. 

The Hope, Michigan native can also recall how much damage storms caused, both in monetary figures and fatalities caused by hurricanes. 

Douroujalian is a certified SKYWARN storm spotter for the National Weather Service, a volunteer program that requires a training course to become certified. He tracks storms for the NWS in Midland and Gratiot county.