Q and A with StormHour Featured Meteorologist – Will Haenni
Will Haenni – Kalamazoo, MI
Will Haenni is the weekend evening meteorologist for
@WWMTNews in Kalamazoo, covering all things West Michigan weather. Will received his Bachelor of Science degree in meteorology from Valparaiso University, and he began his career as a Broadcast Meteorologist in May 2016.
During his time at Valparaiso he interned with Bryan Busby (KMBC – Kansas City) and Tom Skilling (WGN – Chicago).
Question 1. What was your most memorable weather event?
Growing up in St. Louis (Kirkwood), I have my fair share of weather memories. The first one that comes to mind, though, is the ice storm that paralyzed the city and surrounding areas on December 1st, 2006. I remember walking around our neighborhood in awe looking at everything coated in thick ice. It was also memorable because I had family members out of power for several days.Since my career started a little over a year ago, I will remember the very wet pattern that set up in the final weekend of April and into the first week of May. Flooding shut down some major roads/highways in mid-Missouri and several river gauges in our region set records.
Question 2. What is your favourite and least favourite type of weather?
My favorite type of weather would have to be severe convective weather. There just aren’t many things like the adrenaline rush that comes with nowcasting storms. The complexity of thunderstorms, particularly supercells, is what continues to fascinate me. During my time at Valparaiso University I participated in two 10-day convective field studies under the direction of Dr. Bart Wolf, and those were opportunities that really shaped my understanding of storm development, maturity, and dissipation. Chasing in the great plains provides the ultimate classroom to see and learn about storm structure. It was on those trips I saw my first tornado in person.
My least favorite type of weather is probably bitter cold… the type of cold/wind that stings your face if you’re outside. The winter is the one thing I don’t miss about living near Lake Michigan. That being said, I do love a good snowstorm/lake effect event.
Question 3. If you weren't a meteorologist what would you most like to be?
If I wasn’t a meteorologist, I would probably be a science or math teacher. I had some awesome science/math teachers growing up, and the opportunity to inspire young minds would be pretty cool. My unrealistic back up plan would be to try out for Cirque du Soleil as a circus performer and travel the world. I have juggled for about 15 years… but I don’t quite think I’d make the cut.
Question 4. From a purely meteorological point of view, where would you most like to live?
I hope to stay in the Midwest for the rest of my meteorological career. Forecasting in this region you never really get bored. There’s almost always a change around the corner. I like that we get a little bit of everything here. It’s also what I’m used to. Having lived and worked here, it’s what I know best and where I hope to develop my skills as a forecaster.
Question 5. Is there anything else you'd like to share?
One thing a little atypical about my journey was the fact that unlike many people in this field, I didn’t know I wanted to be a meteorologist until late in high school. You’ll find many meteorologists that will tell you they found their passion at a very young age. The weather was something that always interested me, but not something I ever really thought about as a possible career. I liked math, science, and performing, and came to the conclusion that broadcast meteorology could be a really fitting career to combine some of my skills. Now, I am one of the biggest weather geeks you’ll meet, and feel truly honored to do what I do.
The reason I bring that up is because I almost backed out of pursuing meteorology after my freshman year of college. I was surrounded with classmates that knew more than me, that were sure of their path, that could tell you every severe weather event (by date) that they’d lived through. I wasn’t quite at their level, and I’ll be the first one to tell you that. What I learned though was that everyone’s journey is different. You can’t let other people’s passion dictate your own. I stuck it out, and once I started some of the upper level classes I truly fell in love with how the atmosphere worked. Once things started clicking, I knew forecasting and specifically the broadcast sector was the correct path for me.
Question 6. As a recent graduate, what advice would you give to students pursuing meteorology?
Find a mentor (or several). I wouldn’t be where I’m at had it not been through the great guidance by people like Bryan Busby, Mike Roberts, and Tripp Frohlichstein to name a few. A mentor is someone that will tell it like it is, that will hold your character accountable. They give honest feedback and things to improve on.Also remember that no matter what you do in meteorology, you must stay humble. If you get a big head, mother nature will always throw you a curve ball to knock you on your rear end.