Ben McMillan started storm chasing during his high school years growing up in Pella, Iowa and it has stuck with him ever since. Focusing on a career in public service, Ben has worked in law enforcement, for several hospitals, and currently works in the Fire/EMS system in Phoenix, Arizona.
After witnessing the many severe storms growing up in rural Iowa, Ben chose to combine his interests of public service and weather by becoming a professional storm chaser. While enrolled at Iowa State University, Ben worked for the campus police department and co-founded Iowa State’s student news program “Newswatch 18” frequently contributing weather videos to the show.
In 2008, Ben tracked and witnessed Iowa’s last EF-5 tornado, the strongest type of tornado that can be recorded by scientists.
Ben was credited as being one of the initial storm spotters that tracked the storm, and helped alert the town of Parkersburg a tornado was coming its way.
Ben worked for KCCI television in Des Moines before joining the WeatherNation team, and has been featured in several Emmy-nominated and/or Emmy winning news stories. Ben was also honored by companies such as Ford and Red Bull in their portrayal of people making a difference in their communities through service-oriented jobs.
In his free time, Ben enjoys spending time with his family in Arizona, their horse and several dogs. Ben is also an aviation enthusiast who hopes to someday get his pilot’s license, and loves being in the great outdoors.
Q&A with Ben McMillan
What inspired you to become a field correspondent and pursue a career as an on-air weather caster?
Through my time working as a first responder, I witnessed the profound impact natural disasters have had on people and their communities. A tornado, hurricane, or wildfire is an extreme weather act that is lifechanging for the many families that have to pick up the pieces after dealing with these disasters. I have devoted my career to helping people prepare before, react during, and recover after these terrible events.
What is your most memorable weather experience?
During June of 2014, I tracked the historic "twin tornadoes" that impacted the community of Pilger, Nebraska. We had two strong tornadoes (EF-4s) drop out of the sky simultaneously move alongside each other’s path. This was a very rare weather event to watch and have the 2 strong tornadoes co-exist so long next to each other.
Outside of weather what are your hobbies and life interests?
Besides spending time with family and in the great outdoors, I am a huge sports fan. I follow my local teams in Arizona very closely rooting for the Cardinals, Suns, Diamondbacks, and Coyotes! I dream of watching the Cardinals play in a Super Bowl someday, hopefully soon.
Besides your parents who has influenced you the most in your life?
I had the privilege to be a part of the TWISTEX tornado research team in 2011 and work with storm chasing greats like the late Tim and Paul Samaras, the late Carl Young, Tony Laubach, and Ed Grubb. The positive attitude and sense of teamwork displayed by the TWISTEX team was second to none. The way the team members conducted themselves not only as chasers, but as people. This still serves as a guide for my professional and personal relationships today. Tim would always say
"Keep your focus on your passion in life and the things you enjoy doing. You'll get there. Trust me. I'm doing it."
What is a little known fact about you?
During college, I worked for Walt Disney's College Program and worked as one of the cast members who operates the ride "Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin" in Tomorrowland at Disney World's Magic Kingdom. I dressed up in a space suit, and dodged laser beams throughout the day during my sophomore year of college.
What are your hopes and dreams for the profession of weather?
When I joined the WeatherNation team it was the best fit possible for my life-long goal of bettering the warning process for people in the path of dangerous storms. WeatherNation's 24/7 weather coverage provides a critical information source for people, always there, around the clock. Our meteorologists are ready to answer the call whenever the weather becomes hazardous. By providing up-to-date information to our team back in the studio from the front lines of storms, I can contribute to our coverage and do my part to help keep people safe.