3 Things from the National Tropical Weather Conference

HellerWeather Blog NTWC19

Last week over 100 meteorologists from across the country traveled to South Padre Island for the National Tropical Weather Conference. Among the featured presenters: Ken Graham, Director of the National Hurricane Center; Craig Fugate, former director of FEMA; Jason Samenow from the Capital Weather Gang; Rob Marciano from ABC News; and Josh Morgerman from iCyclone and star of an upcoming TV series called “Hurricane Man.”

Hurricane Hunter WC-130The coolest guys in the room were two Hurricane Hunters from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron who brought along their WC-130 plane. In the world of meteorology, these guys are like rock stars. Everyone wanted their picture taken with Major Ryan Rickert and Major Jeremy DeHart. Nice guys who love sharing their experiences flying through hurricanes.

There were three things I took away from the conference that could benefit broadcast meteorologists.

1. We need to find more words

Unprecedented. Historic. Biblical. These are just some of the words used to describe weather events over the last few years. They’ve been used so many times, they’ve lost their meaning. We need to find more words. Or better yet, stop using adjectives and start using real numbers, real facts.

2. Size doesn’t matter

According to data compiled by Ken Graham, Director of the National Hurricane Center, since 2010 category one hurricanes have caused 175 deaths and $103 billion in damage. All tropical cyclones have the potential to produce death and damage. This is another reminder not to focus on the category of the storm.

3. TV is losing to online, but not by much

Research shows that most people get their news and weather from online sources. But TV ranks a close second. What’s this mean for broadcast meteorologists? We need to produce for digital first. Jason Samenow, whose blog posts on the Capital Weather Gang generate millions of views, reminds us that online messages need to be simple, clear and repeated often. And images should not take more than a few seconds to understand.


This conference is one of the best for tropical weather meteorologists. In addition to drawing recognized speakers, the coordinators offer interview and live-shot opportunities for broadcast meteorologists. Alex Garcia and Tim Smith do a great job educating and entertaining attendees. Plus, what’s not to like about a conference that’s held near a beautiful beach?