Meet the A+ Weather Team

Christopher Brame
Meteorologist
University of Missouri, Bachelor of Science in Soil, Environmental & Atmospheric Science
Hometown: Parkville, MO

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.

 

Sullivan Brown
Weather Operations Manager
Lyndon State College, Bachelor of Science 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.

 

Weather ConsultingRyan Difani
Meteorologist
University of Missouri, Master of Science in Natural Resources: Soil, Environmental, & Atmospheric Sciences
Hometown: Pocahontas, Arkansas

Favorite Storm, January 26-28, 2009: On the 26th, the talk of the day was how bad would the storm be, and how much ice would we get? Indeed, it was forecast to be a bad icing event with around an inch of ice expected. Numerous power outages were possible. Ice Storm Warnings were hoisted from Oklahoma into Kentucky, including northeast Arkansas and my hometown of Pocahontas. By the afternoon of the 26th, sleet began in earnest and quickly piled up on the ground and roadways.

There was even thunder-sleet at times. However, shortly before midnight sleet changed to freezing rain. Freezing rain continued throughout the night with the temperature hovering around 30. By daybreak, trees were snapping and the power outages across the region began. We lost power around 11am at my house. What was worse? Freezing rain continued off-and-on throughout the 27th. Another heavy round of freezing rain occurred during the evening and overnight hours of the 27th. During the night, tree limbs could be heard snapping around our house seemingly every 20-30 seconds. Occasionally branches landed just beside or even hit the roof of our home. It was a very eerie night giving the constant snapping in the pitch black night given widespread power outages. Our family spent the night all sleeping in the living room next to the fireplace for warmth.

Upon sunrise on the 28th, the sun was shining and the storm had come to an end. In fact, everything was glistening under a layer of snow atop all the ice. The scene was honestly quite beautiful despite the destruction. All told, sleet accumulation was around an inch, snow accumulation around an inch and total ice accretion was an incredible 1.25". Our home was without power for the better part of 8 days. Other portions of northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri would remain without power for nearly a month. It was an amazing meteorological storm and one for the history books in Northeast Arkansas.

 

Weather Consulting Nathan Jurgensen
Meteorologist
University of Nebraska, Bachelor of Science in Meteorology and Climatology
Hometown: Burwell, Nebraska

Favorite Storm, May 11, 2014: The day after receiving my degree in meteorology, I went on a storm chase in my own backyard of southeast Nebraska. A warm front was draped in the vicinity of Interstate 80 through eastern Nebraska and with plenty of instability and shear to work with. All that was needed was a storm to fire.

By the middle of the afternoon, storms developed on the triple point in south central Nebraska. It didn’t take long before one storm latched onto the boundary and became the long-lived tornadic storm of the day. It quickly became a personal matter as the storm soon began to bear down on Lincoln itself. Fortunately, the tornadic activity had mostly waned by that time and the storm largely missed the city to the north.

The day winded up producing many tornadoes just south of the interstate from Aurora to Lincoln, including the two I witnessed: one near Fairmont, NE and an anticyclonic tornado just outside Friend, NE.  A few small towns were hit hard including Sutton, Cordova, and Beaver Crossing but fortunately no fatalities or injuries were reported. It was a day that neither I, nor many other local Nebraskans, will soon forget.

 

Weather ConsultingTim Richards
Meteorologist
University of Kansas, Bachelor of Science in Atmospheric Science
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri

Favorite Storm, Kansas City Ice Storm of January 2002: Ever since I can remember, weather has always fascinated me. As a little kid, my dad would always tell me stories about storms he'd seen and about snowstorms he had experienced growing up in the suburbs of New York City. I can remember us sitting in our garage when I was young watching the storms roll in every spring & summer. But I would always wonder what it was like for my dad to experience those winter storms back east. Up until 2002, I couldn't think of a winter storm that was memorable that I had experienced. That all changed late January of 2002.

I was in first grade and had gone back to school after Christmas break. Every winter I would always hope for a big storm to move through so I could get a snow day. By the end of January, I didn't think that storm would come. I can remember the week leading up to the ice storm being very warm as temperatures were in the 50s and 60s and winter was on no one's mind. Late on January 28 an Arctic front moved through Kansas City and sent temperatures from the 60s to well below freezing. Being a young weather nerd, I would always watch the various local news casts and listen to what each meteorologist was saying each day. Even though they were talking about an ice storm the few days leading up to the start of the storm, I didn't think it could actually rain when it was so cold out. Sure enough, shortly after the cold front moved through rain began to fall. When I woke up to get ready for school I noticed that my light wouldn't turn on and it was freezing in my room.

I looked out of my window and saw that everything was covered in ice. The first thing I noticed was that my favorite tree to climb was completely split in half from how heavy the ice was. Everything was shiny from all of the ice. I had never seen something like that before, so I was mesmerized. Later that morning, my family had to pack a bag and drive over to my aunt's house due to our power being out. We stayed with my aunt & uncle for two weeks before power was restored to our house. In total, we received about 2 inches of ice. After that storm, I became fascinated with winter weather, especially freezing rain, and it was at that moment that I knew I wanted to become a meteorologist when I grew up.

 

Weather ConsultingRebecca Rogers
Meteorologist
Central Michigan University, Bachelor of Science in Meteorology, Minor in Mathematics
Hometown: Allen Park, Michigan

Favorite Storm, November 17, 2013: It was almost the end of the fall semester at Central Michigan University. The threat of severe weather for Sunday was ringing in all of my classmate's ears. What made this case interesting was the fact that it was a severe thunderstorm threat in November. Usually this time of year means cold rain showers, snow showers, or possibly even a snow storm. Everyone was excited about the system that was forecast to move through our area. Some of my classmates even planned on chasing during the event. 

Sunday came, and as I anticipated the approaching system I set up my weather observing station in my aunt's living room. Laptop running, multiple web browsers open, each with several tabs, and a cup of hot tea I was ready to dedicate my day off from classes to my true passion: weather. As the system raced across the state I kept an eye on the radar. The line of storms was about an hour away when I noticed a velocity signature in the approaching storms. Rotation was apparent and I tracked the movement constantly. Strong winds and heavy rain tore down the street; a tree across from the house soon gave way and disconnected power lines. We had to get the generator up and running as soon as the weather passed. Generator running, we had to drive through the heavily wooded area to get more gas. Trees were down everywhere, people within the community were helping to clear the roadways after the storms left its mark.

We had to keep the generator running for two days until the power returned to the neighborhood. To this day I have never seen a system like this. There were four tornadoes reported in Michigan out of the 126 reports from the system that day. My friends who went chasing had a close call in Indiana; they returned safely, but changed their approach forever. We still talk about it to this day.

 

Jordan Thies
Meteorologist
University of Nebraska, Bachelor of Science in Meteorology and Climatology
Hometown: Norfolk, Nebraska

Favorite Storm, Christmas Blizzard 2009: My parents had always told me that winters in Northeast Nebraska just weren’t what they used to be like back when they were young.  They would tell me tales of snow drifts taller than most homes, and how large tractors even struggled to move the snow. Since we hadn’t experienced this, my siblings and I never really believed my parents.  All of that changed the Christmas of 2009.

Snow started falling on Christmas Eve morning and by early afternoon several inches of snow had accumulated on the ground, with the wind starting to pick up. We could barely see across the street, and therefore were beginning to wonder if we would be able to continue our family tradition of going to Christmas Eve church service.  Sure enough, a couple of hours later, all Christmas Eve and Day services were cancelled as the roads had become impassible.  (Later I found out that it was the first time in more than 50 years that Christmas services had been cancelled!)  We were officially snowed in.

We awoke Christmas morning to find that not only had it snowed all night, but the winds had significantly increased.  Due to the blizzard-like conditions, it was quite obvious that we weren’t going to see any relatives on Christmas.  By the end of the day we could no longer see our vehicles and in some places, we had snow drifts taller than our house. When it was all said and done, the snow storm lasted three days and produced nearly two feet of snow.  It wasn’t until the 28th that we were able to leave our driveway.  Needless to say, we had a lot of quality family time.

A couple of weeks later, we managed to get the extended family together for a late Christmas gathering.  Listening to the way my parents and relatives talked about the snow helped me put into perspective just how significant the storms were when they were young.  It was then that I became a believer.