Jaclyn Whittal: Storm Hunter

You can find meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal wherever there is dangerous weather—she chases storms for a living. With a certification in Operational Meteorology and Geoscience from Mississippi State University, Jaclyn kick-started her career reporting on the weather for Global TV, Regina. That’s when she met photographer Greg Johnson, who introduced her to the life of storm chasing.

Before she knew it, the two found themselves in the heart of Tornado Alley in the central plains of the US, and within two weeks she was faced with her very first tornado. She got the “storm chasing itch” and she hasn’t stopped since. “Before, if you told me that I’d be storm chasing and doing all the different things that I’ve done, I would have thought you were nuts.”

Jaclyn has found herself caught in the largest tornado in US history and only nearly escaped its disastrous path. She has reported from seven hurricanes, including the strongest she has ever encountered, hurricane Michael, which was a category 4 hurricane in the Florida Panhandle.

She has reported from thunderstorms, earthquakes, and extreme weather all around the world for the Weather Network, with her co-host and fellow meteorologist Mark Robinson. “It’s so fascinating, and the best way to learn about it is to put yourself in it.”

But this self-proclaimed “weather geek” didn’t start out on the most conventional path. For 11 years of her life, she toured the world as a professional stage singer, recording rock albums and performing in different musical productions. But once she turned 30 she decided she wanted to take her life into a different direction. “I was just done wearing sexy costumes on stage and I wanted to challenge my academic side.”

Jaclyn says the best part of her day is that no two days are ever the same. Every day has its challenges because weather can be so unpredictable. “I’m in it for the rush, there is no question there, but I try to do it safely. You don’t want a devastating hurricane to anyone that lives there, but as a meteorologist and a storm chaser it’s just so powerful and exciting, it’s what I live for.”

 

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