John Van Pelt

Field Correspondent

John started his career in radio as a part-timer at several stations in Raleigh, NC while in high school and college. His first fulltime job took him to Myrtle Beach, SC, where in 1979, he went through the preparations for and coverage of Hurricane David as it raked the Grand Strand. That spurred his interest in severe weather and disaster preparedness. After returning to Raleigh and NC State University, he continued in radio for several years, before becoming a Macintosh consultant, specializing in digital audio and video creation & editing.

Becoming an Amateur Radio operator for the specific purpose of joining the National Weather Service Skywarn volunteer program, he was involved in several ‘World’s Firsts’, with the first 24/7 wireless mobile weather webcam in 1999 and the first 24/7 mobile wireless weather station in 2001.

From hurricanes, with the help of fellow Ham, Danny Musten, John initiated the first Internet Radio Linking Project (voip) report to the National Hurricane Center, with a portable ham radio from Hurricane Lili, in 2002. He also originated the first EchoLink (voip) hurricane report from a vehicle-based laptop and wireless AirCard, from Hurricane Wilma to the NHC in 2005.

He worked as an on-air consultant, with CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and numerous local TV affiliates during hurricane season from 2002-2005 and was the on-camera weather conditions consultant for MSNBC’s coverage of the Space Shuttle’s Return to Flight mission in ’05.

In 2007 and 2008 he was Energizer’s national spokesman for their ‘Plan. Prepare. Protect’ initiative, supporting family preparedness education through school and children’s club visits with “The Bunny”, national satellite media tours, appearing in millions of households from the National Hurricane Conference and online content creation.

His passion for reporting accurate conditions and preparedness information from the field continues to be an important personal commitment at WeatherNation.

Q&A with John Van Pelt

What is your most memorable weather experience?
My most surprising event was the Thanksgiving weekend F4 tornado in Raleigh in 1988. It formed around 1 in the morning, killed four people and was on the ground for 84 miles! My most memorable storm though, was Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Twelve hours before landfall near Gulf Shores, AL, the storm's surge was already over-topping the dunes and flooding the beach front. Later, surge reached over 15 feet and was still chest-deep a mile and a half inland 12 hours after landfall. I truly saw the power of storm surge firsthand and it was amazing.
Outside of weather what are your hobbies and life interests?
I'm a tech geek, enjoy Sci Fi movies and lately, I'm a documentary junkie.
Besides your parents who has influenced you the most in your life?
One of my biggest influences was my Junior High shop teacher, Mr, Maddrey. He was also in charge of the A/V department. So besides learning about just about every technology and 'industrial art' then, I became the "Head A/V assistant" for years, so yeah, I could thread a projector, set up a PA system and rock the school from an early age.
What is a little known fact about you?
I'm an ex-number-one radio morning man AND when I'm not on the air, I sport long, flowing blond hair.
What are your hopes and dreams for the profession of weather?
I want to continue to use the best technologies possible to gather and disseminate timely and accurate data, advice and warnings to keep the public safer and better informed through every medium available to us.

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Spring Break! Don't forget to send us your photos so we can share them with our viewers from around the country! https://t.co/uxiFdlMi7F

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Just look at this! The sunrise in Jamestown, RI on Friday morning was absolutely gorgeous. #RIwxhttps://t.co/MxGwrxATy0

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Four Corners #Snow: The highest elevations of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico picked up 1 to 2 feet of sn… https://t.co/eUQPfYT5Vv

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Large #hail was left behind as severe storms moved through parts of #Kansas early Friday afternoon. #KSwx https://t.co/SwLx9W315W

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Severe thunderstorms move through the southern states Friday afternoon and evening. #TXwx https://t.co/nty0ESsJ0Y

5 hours ago by WeatherNation

Lots of wind and hail with this storm so far today. #Tornado Watch still in effect for east Texas and central Louis… https://t.co/MgR29F4U7r

6 hours ago by WeatherNation

Severe Thunderstorm Watch issued until 3am CT for southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana. Large hail & strong win… https://t.co/ErcFBpSuzR

7 hours ago by WeatherNation

New #Tornado Watch issued for parts of Louisiana and Texas until 3am CT. Tornado Watch still in effect for Houston,… https://t.co/JqA9WHgeLf

7 hours ago by WeatherNation

We're covering severe storms including #tornado warnings in TX. Watch here: https://t.co/8Mspy1D5w9 #TXwx https://t.co/TwmOcbUtro

7 hours ago by WeatherNation

7:05 p.m. Central...*New* tornado watch issued for southeastern Texas until midnight local time for the potential o… https://t.co/hst7LXXzto

9 hours ago by WeatherNation

Wait - didn't spring start this week? Looking a little Christmas-like here in Colorado. #COwx https://t.co/9fyc9mcXeL

10 hours ago by WeatherNation

An enhanced risk for severe storms tonight in the Arklatex. Additional severe chances this weekend in the South -… https://t.co/G0tuhgaLVy

11 hours ago by WeatherNation

Chicago hit a new daily high temperature record today, surpassing 80 degrees! #ILwx https://t.co/VT6FRultVQ

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Blizzard conditions in parts of New Mexico as strong winds & heavy snow continues. More snow is ahead for the West… https://t.co/BewK6HnJN8

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Wind & hail damage have been the primary threats for the last 24 hours. Today, #tornadoes will also be possible in… https://t.co/cQvlenh1yD

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Be alert for #severe weather today around the #Arklatex region. Hail, damaging winds, tornadoes all possible #TXwxhttps://t.co/kUxk8ozTJ2

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Scientists are developing drought resistant crops capable of tolerating increasingly high temps & dry conditions.… https://t.co/gdSUpYOl9B

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