John McLaughlin is a familiar face to Iowa TV viewers, having worked at KCCI-TV in Des Moines for three decades. He served as the Chief Meteorologist from 1995 to 2016 and led the station’s procurement and installation of three advanced Doppler weather radars manufactured and installed by Baron Weather of Huntsville, Alabama.  John has presented at dozens of conferences and training seminars on using radar in severe storm detection.  He is a past president of the 3,000+ member National Weather Association (NWA) and served two terms as the Chairman of the American Meteorological Society’s (AMS) Board of Broadcast Meteorology. He is one of handful of meteorologists in the country to have received the top broadcast award from both the NWA and AMS.

John is also a commercial-rated pilot and a helicopters and airplanes flight instructor. He also serves the Midwest as a Designated Pilot Examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Due to his background in aviation and meteorology, John provided expert feedback on delivering radar data to the cockpit using Sirius-XM satellite radio. John and Baron Weather founder, Bob Baron, kicked off this project by visiting the annual Experimental Aviation Association fly-in at Oshkosh, Wisconsin as Baron sought a way to make weather in the cockpit a reality. They found many aviation companies trying to do weather, but no companies that truly understood weather trying to do aviation! John’s Seneca III twin engine airplane and Bob Baron’s Piper Lance flew around thunderstorms to compare the Baron radar data to visual observations.  Today, nearly every new aircraft comes standard with this technology. Now, John’s efforts involve educating pilots on the differences between Baron’s satellite-delivered weather and the weather data broadcast through the FAA’s ADS-B system.

John moved back to west-central Iowa and currently resides in Greene County after taking an early retirement from KCCI due to a medical condition.  He would not let his illness curb his passion for weather, so he partnered with his colleagues at Baron Weather and his family’s New Way Way Auto Group dealerships in Coon Rapids, Jefferson, and Pocahontas IA to create the “Storm Hunter” weather app.

The new app features some of the same technology John used on TV for many years to warn Iowans about dangerous storms. The app’s Safety Net Alerts allow users to be notified of approaching storms, lightning, twisting winds, and – of course – all official NWS warnings for up to eight locations. John McLaughlin says, “In Storm Hunter, we’ve tried to make complex radar easy to understand. For instance the Baron Button breaks the radar down into three categories: heavy rain, hail, and high winds.  We are processing that data for all five NWS radars covering Iowa.  The Future Scan feature models the movement, growth, or decay of a line of storms over the next hour. It’s an exclusive product used by many TV stations, but only found on the Storm Hunter app.”