Meet the A+ Weather Team

 

 

Sullivan Brown
Weather Operations Manager
Lyndon State College, B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences
Hometown: Gardiner, Maine

Favorite Storm, January 5-9, 1998: New Englanders are always quoting Mark Twain by saying “If you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute.” In January of 1998, when my favorite storm occurred, a minute turned into several days before a change in precipitation type. The precipitation during that time frame was freezing rain, and caused catastrophic damage throughout New England, including my hometown of Gardiner, ME. A strengthening area of high pressure northeast of New England provided the region with ample low-level cold air, and a stationary front located over southern New England allowed areas of low pressure to track toward and south of New England. Warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico associated with the low pressure systems overrode the stationary front and cold surface air north of the front, leading to the formation of freezing rain.

On the 7th through the 9th, the most intense days of the storm, I remember watching the rain pour from the sky and accumulate rapidly on the street, the power lines, and the trees around my home. The night of the 8th loud snaps of full grown trees and bright blue flashes from transformers crippled by the ice were all I heard and saw while lying in bed. We were without power for over a week, and some parts of Maine went almost a month without power.  Roughly 1.5 inches of ice accumulated in Gardiner, and my yard resembled a war zone when the storm was said and done. The sheer power and magnitude of the 1998 ice storm was impressive, and gave me over a week off from school, which is every child’s dream.

 

Christopher Brame
Advanced Consulting Meteorologist
University of Missouri, B.S. in Soil, Environmental & Atmospheric Science
Hometown: Parkville, Missouri

Favorite Storm, April 22, 2011: On my way home from classes one Friday afternoon in late April, I couldn't help but notice the vast fields of cumulus clouds gathering just to the west of town. To most people, these clouds probably looked harmless, even beautiful considering the mild spring day. But being a part of a meteorology department, I knew what was to come. Everyone had been talking about this day since Wednesday, with a few even thinking about going out for some late afternoon storm chasing. Pulling into the driveway, I could see several storms already breaking through the cap and becoming vertically developed. The most impressive one was about 10 miles south of town. Instead of going inside and looking at all the data and indices, I opted to pull up a chair on my east-facing porch, sit back and enjoy the show.

As sat on my porch, watching another storm cloud develop just over the city of Columbia, MO, tornado sirens began to sound on the south side of town, in the vicinity of the first storm that had caught my eye coming home. Now I HAD to see a radar loop! I pulled up the latest loop and spot the tornado warned supercell, which was right over the small town of Ashland, MO. A recent hail report from the town told of hail over an inch and a half having fallen in the small town. Seeing that this cell would soon cross I-70, I jumped in my car, got on the highway and watched as the cell slowly meandered across the road. Having seen nothing other than a beautiful storm, I turned around and head back to the apartment. The rest of the evening, I watched these storms develop and track roughly along I-70. Eventually these storms made it to St. Louis, where the storm I had watched from my porch, made a direct hit on the Lambert Airport.

 

Brandon Burton
Operational Meteorologist
Kansas University, B.S. in Atmospheric Science
Hometown: Hill City, Kansas

Favorite Storm, April 10, 2005: I used to go to the farm that is about 20 miles southwest of Hill City with my grandpa all the time to help with the cattle. One day we were bringing the tractor back and I happened to see a storm forming off to the southwest. I told my grandpa about it and he said we would have to pay attention to it. Of course, this is nothing new for my grandpa who over his years of farming has seen many storms come and go. We rushed to finish feeding the cattle and by the time we were finished, the storm had grown into a supercell and it was heading right towards us. I started to freak out because I saw what looked to be a wall cloud and told my grandpa that we needed to go. Well, my grandpa is a very patient person and wanted to make a pot of coffee before we left.

I'm standing outside watching this storm come in while my grandpa was making coffee inside and I'm thinking that this storm was going to drop a tornado right on top of us. My grandpa gets done and I run to the truck to start it so we could get out of there as fast as we can. My grandpa stops and leans against the fence and just looks at the storm in amazement. After a while, he walks over to the truck and tells me we should probably get out of there. We get in the truck and start heading back to Hill City, I look behind us and see a funnel cloud. We quickly stop and turn the truck around to just watch it. We watched it spawn a brief tornado and I was in total awe. It dissipated and the storm moved away from us after a short time. This storm was a reason I started to storm chase and wanted to become a meteorologist. I've seen numerous tornadoes since then. However, this tornado is what sparked my interest in weather, and I can thank my grandpa and mother nature for this.

 

 

Casey Hockenbury
Operational Meteorologist
Virginia Tech, B.S. in Meteorology
Hometown: Pottstown, PA

Favorite Storm May 18, 2019: During my undergraduate years at Virginia Tech, I had the opportunity to go on a storm chase in the Central and Southern Plains the last 2 weeks of May 2019. I was forecasting days in advance for our first few days on the road due to my excitement. There was a severe storm risk being highlighted 4 days in advance across Western Kansas into Eastern Colorado. In each new model run that came out, one area along the border of Kansas and Nebraska stood out to me. So, on our first day driving out to the plains, we stopped overnight in Kansas City. I took one last look at model data, and picked a target town for us to drive through the next day: McCook, Nebraska. The next morning, we drove 7 hours across Kansas. We spent 5 hours waiting for severe storms to fire, and finally, one storm did. After following it for nearly 2 hours, it produced an EF-2 tornado just west of the town of McCook. This was my first tornado, and from that moment I knew that forecasting was what I wanted to do.

 

 

Steffen Seys
Operational Meteorologist
Central Michigan University, B.S. in Meteorology & Math Minor
Hometown: Montague, Michigan

Favorite Storm May 25, 2008: Growing up I had always had a love of weather. I’d watch storms with my grandfather off the front porch or stay up late watching the flashes of lightning fill the sky from my bedroom window. Watching storms from afar it was easy to fall in love with the beauty and power of nature, but it wasn’t until my high school years that my passion for weather grew into a desire to do more. In 2010 I would move to a new community, one who has continued to impact me ever since.

The town of Parkersburg, IA was devastated on May 25th, 2008 as nine lives were lost and half the town destroyed by a large EF5 tornado. While I didn’t live in the community during the event it was always a part of life for everyone in the town afterwards. I would hear personal accounts from friends and neighbors of how that day evolved, traveled the path the storm took through town. and could still see the deep scars the storm left behind several years later. Even though I didn’t live through the storm, I got to witness the aftermath it had on the community with people coming together to rebuild their lives. This ignited a burning passion to apply my knowledge and skills to better prepare communities like mine for adverse weather.

 

 

Thomas Iwinski
Operational Meteorologist
University of Michigan, B.S.E in Climate and MEteorology
Hometown: Garden City, Michigan

 

Favorite Storm, June 25-26th, 2021: Throughout my childhood, my father took me outside to watch thunderstorms roll in and I became instantly hooked to meteorology. Ever since, I have been recording rainfall and snowfall totals as storm systems move through using numerous measuring devices. Back in 2021 on June 25-26th, an active weather pattern brought widespread rainfall and significant flooding to the Detroit Metro. Widespread flooding issues included numerous freeway closures (portions of major freeways such as I-94), flooded underpasses, stranded vehicles, and flooded basements. As a low-pressure center tracked along a stalled stationary boundary interacting with a very moist subtropical air mass, it produced nearly 7" of rain in a relatively short time.

Using my CoCoRaHS gauge on June 25th I recorded a 12-hour total of 1.02" from 12am-12pm. This began saturating the soil and was just the appetizer to the main event. Over the next 12 hours, I recorded an additional 1.41" of rain bringing the 24-hour rainfall total to 2.43" for the day. However, on June 26th from 12am-3am, an extremely heavy band of rainfall stalled over the area. It unloaded a staggering 4.17" of rain! This led to the major widespread flooding across the entire area. The 48-hour rainfall total of 6.61" of rain was recorded and it was the most rainfall I have ever recorded at my location.