To this day, I can identify a hook echo on radar. I can see signs of rotation among colored pixels and point out a wall cloud on a weather cam. And I’ll always recognize the voice of former KCCI meteorologist John McLaughlin.
Des Moines, Iowa, sees a Wizard of Oz-like share of severe weather, and growing up there means becoming accustomed to the scream of tornado sirens and the blare of broadcast weather alerts.
I was terrified of those sounds, and of the lash of hail on siding and the whoosh of trees whipping in storm winds.
But when I would hear that siren and run to the basement, as long as the power was on, my local TV meteorologist was there. On stormy afternoons and the wee hours of violent nights, he would be on air. He treated storms with respect and caution, putting safety first without sensationalizing. He helped me learn more than I thought I’d ever want to know about how storm fronts form and move, and the more I understood how they worked, the less terrifying they were.
He was a small but consistent and important part of my life not just during storms but every day, as are my local TV weather team today.
Meteorologists keep us informed and safe. Through storms and snow and sleet and sun, they help us be prepared to meet the day.
They’re patient through our ire when it rains on our parade and when urgent warnings interrupt our favorite shows.
They are on the front lines of helping us understand how a changing climate affects not only our weather, particularly extreme weather, but everything from agriculture to our local economies.
One helped me be a little less scared of storms.
Thank you, John, and thank you to weathercasters and meteorologists everywhere.