University of Michigan, Bachelor's of Science in Earth Systems Science and Engineering (concentration in Meteorology)
Erik Kostrzewa was born and raised in the state of Michigan; spending much of his life in the suburbs of Detroit. Erik attended the University of Michigan and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Earth Systems Science and Engineering with a concentration in Meteorology. His first on-air job was straight out of college in Lansing, Michigan at WLNS-TV. After a few years, he moved an hour west to Grand Rapids to continue his career at FOX17 news. While in the heart of the lower peninsula, Erik covered a wide variety of challenging weather from lake-effect snow to derechos. Erik definitely has an interesting last name which comes from his Polish descent. If you are wondering how it is pronounced, the easiest way to say it is “Ka-Stree-Va”. Erik is thrilled to forecast on a national scale at WeatherNation and experience an even wider range of weather in Colorado! He is also looking forward to experiencing his first 14er on one of the many mountains in the state.
Q&A with Erik Kostrzewa
What inspired you to become a meteorologist?
The weather is my first ever memory. It was of a bad thunderstorm that moved through, and I was home alone at the time with my sister. While it did some damage in my neighborhood, my sister and I were not harmed. Once I knew there were ways to stay safe during bad weather, the worried feeling I got during storms turned into fascination. I would check the weather every morning to see what could be coming our way that day or in the next few days. If it was ever something bad or interesting, especially if we could get school off thanks to a snowstorm, I would tell my family and friends. It was one of the few things I wanted to learn about every day. I knew as I moved through school that this was the career for me. Even to this day, the fascination is still as strong as it was during my childhood. I continue to learn new things that could help me be the best Meteorologist I can be.
What is your most memorable weather experience?
You would think my most memorable experience would be that of the first memory I have, but it actually came just a few years ago. Throughout my childhood, I always wanted to see a tornado. The chance of one forming in my home state of Michigan, however, is pretty low. After not seeing one in the first 21 years of my life, I decided that I would have to go on a little adventure to the central plains to better my chances. During the summer of my junior year, three other Meteorology students and I went on a tornado research trip. We chased storms across several different states for a month and a half. The structures of some of the storms I saw were jaw-dropping. It was also the first time I had encountered hail larger than quarter-sized. While I did see several amazing storms, I did not see a tornado and still haven't to this day. However, the experience during the month and a half with those storms is one I will never forget. I am now hoping though that the move to Colorado will allow me to check the box on seeing a tornado.
Outside of weather, what are your hobbies and interests?
When I am not focused on the weather, fitness and staying active is big for me. I try to go to the gym 4-5 times a week, mainly so I can eat some unhealthy foods. When the gym doesn't sound interesting, going on hikes, skiing, biking, playing basketball and boxing are all in my pocket to help me stay active. I also love anything sports, whether that is playing or enjoying a game from the stands. If I am staying in and having a chill day or night, video games, or just binge-watching some Netflix or a few marvel movies will always put a smile on my face. I also enjoy trying new cuisines or new restaurants/breweries. If I can escape the national chains and go for something local, that is always the route I will take. Although I'll never say no to some Outback Steakhouse or McDonald's french fries every once in a while.
Besides your parents, who as influenced you the most in your life?
I would say my brother and sister have had a huge influence on my life. My older sister has always been there to mentor me and help me through some of the struggles I may have encountered. We are also a competitive bunch, so that fueled all of us to do well in school. My younger brother also allowed me to grow as a person by being patient whenever he has needed help. He is about to become a commercial pilot, so the weather is huge for him to understand too. Making sure my knowledge was in tip-top shape allowed me to answer any questions he had quickly. They have also always been there when I needed help with relationships or life advice.
What is a little known fact about you?
Not many people know that I was almost struck by lightning. I was in my backyard as a storm was rolling in and a bolt of lightning hit only a few feet away from me. It completely took out the power in my neighborhood and almost did the same to me. It did make it hard to hear for a little bit, but I was lucky to not be seriously injured by it. I also occasionally faint at the sight of blood. Whether it is on tv, in a movie, or in person, if there is a lot of blood, I have to look away or I start to get woozy quickly.
What are your hopes and dreams for the profession of weather?
I want to continue to see the accuracy of forecasts improve so we can erase the stigma that Meteorologists are never right. The majority of our forecasts are spot on, but people usually only remember the times that we are wrong. The goal is to continue to learn every single day so that our predictions can be even stronger than they are currently. It is also to continue to educate the public on the variables we must be aware of while forecasting so they can understand what possibly went wrong if a forecast ends up not being 100%. I also want to continue to evolve with what is the best way of getting someone their daily, accurate forecast as new technology comes out.