WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - With two costly, deadly hurricanes in the recent rear-view mirror (Matthew in 2016, Florence in 2018), residents in southeastern North Carolina have plenty of fresh images of how tropical systems can impact their lives. Now that the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season is underway, WECT Chief Meteorologist Gannon Medwick is trying to get his message across.
“It’s only going to take one storm to make a difference if it hits where we live,” said the 15-year veteran of television news. “No matter what the extra noise might be, El Nino or not El Nino, African rain patterns up or down, it doesn’t matter.”
Gannon and the WECT First Alert Weather Team are ready to give viewers the information they need to prepare for, live through and recover from any storm Mother Nature sends toward the coast. Gannon has spent his entire career in eastern North Carolina, working as a meteorologist at WNCT-TV in Greenville prior to joining the WECT team in 2013. Experiencing hurricanes in both markets has given the Delaware native a keen perspective on how people perceive the imminent threat from an approaching tropical system. His advice is, don’t focus solely on the ‘category’ of a storm.
“It’s something you can point to, and they generally relate to the outcome,” he says about the category levels on the Saffir-Simpson scale. “A category one usually does not produce the (storm) surge that a ‘four’ or a ‘five’ does, it’s just physics. But then, once you quickly look under the hood, a lot of that breaks down. Florence would be the poster child of that. Category one at landfall, weakening on approach. Categories are for maximum sustained winds. Then you line up every other parameter that a storm can do, and Florence was setting records. We want to use Florence to really bang that message home. Each storm is going to be different, and we need to look at the impact closely versus the cursory labels.”
Gannon says he got interested in weather in his teens, peaked by some storms that impacted his hometown of Wilmington. “I have a faint memory of Hurricane Gloria in 1985,” he said about those early seeds being planted for a future career. We went on to study weather at learning about television at Penn State University, landing his first job in 2004 at the station in Greenville. That’s also where he started working morning shifts, and surprisingly liked it.
“I had never considered myself a morning person,” he remembers. “Not a night owl either. But If I saw 3am, it’s because I stayed up until 3am, not because I got up at 3am. The job was going to require me to do that. By the end of the first week, I was like ‘I kind of like this. I kind of like getting up, and getting after it.’ That was a big takeaway.”
Gannon joined WECT as Chief Meteorologist, and after a time working the evening shift, he went back to the comfortable morning hours. He and wife Jennifer have two lovely girls, Claire and Natalie. We talked his family life, his memories of Penn State, and the harrowing nights spent covering Hurricane Florence. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.
You can hear my full interview with WECT Chief Meteorologist Gannon Medwick, by clicking on any of the links below.
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