The inaugural Mid-Atlantic ChaserCon occurred Saturday October 27th at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond, the capitol city of the Old Dominion. The overall intent of conducting such an event was to foster a community spirit among those interested in severe weather in a part of the nation that doesn’t always get recognized for experiencing such conditions. The hope is that building these relationships will benefit the public by enhancing communications between the field (storm chasers and spotters) and operational forecasters (National Weather Service and broadcast meteorologists) during times of severe weather. Both sides of the community were present in the meeting room Saturday.
To that end our speakers included an opening keynote address by Zach Daniel, chief meteorologist of a local Richmond television station who has established a storm chase team to support his coverage of severe weather, the first such team on the East Coast. Zach also brought his station’s new storm chase vehicle for display outside the front doors of the Science Museum. This address was followed by a fascinating presentation on recent local severe events from Mike Montefusco, a NWS Wakefield (VA) forecaster. The morning’s agenda ended with an awesome talk by David Hoadley, the dean of U.S. storm chasing, who has been pursuing storms since the 1950s. He captivated the audience with photos, videos, and physical props from his vast experience.
The afternoon schedule began with a panel discussion about the challenges and specifics of storm chasing in the Virginia / North Carolina region by three of the ChaserCon planning staff members. That panel was then followed by an energetic presentation from Kathryn Prociv, formerly of the Weather Channel, who very recently moved to the Today Show at NBC as a weather producer. Her passion for severe weather and storm chasing clearly inspired many in the audience.
That momentum was maintained by a dual talk from members of the Capital Weather Gang (Kevin Ambrose and Ian Livingston) who provided an interesting perspective of storms and storm photography in and around our nation’s capitol, including the unusual revelation of chasing in an urban area via the subway system! The afternoon was wrapped up by Brent Watts – chief meteorologist of a Roanoke VA television station – who talked about severe weather in the mountains (yes, it does happen there!) and also provided a rousing sendoff encouraging the attendees to continue their service to the public regarding the severe weather warning process.
The success of Mid-Atlantic ChaserCon both in attendance and overall interest has already spurred the planning team to look ahead to a 2019 event. The who, what, where, and when are yet to be determined although the why (building community) will remain the same. After we plow through the evaluation sheets the attendees filled out and then compare our personal notes the process of seriously contemplating what next year’s version will look like can begin. Updates will be posted on the event’s Facebook page as well as on other social media platforms. Stay tuned!