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 stations development 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 the use of radar in severe storm detection. He is a past president of the 3000 member National Weather Association and served two terms as the Chairman of the American Meteorological Society’s Board of Broadcast Meteorology. He is one of handful of meteorologists in the country to have received the top broadcast award from both the AMS and NWA.
John is also a commercial-rated pilot and flight instructor in helicopters and airplanes and serves the Midwest as a Designated Pilot Examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration. Due to his background in aviation and meteorology, John provided expert feedback on the delivery of radar data to the cockpit using Sirius-XM satellite radio. This project started with John and Baron Weather founder, Bob Baron, 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 were used to fly around thunderstorms and compare the Baron radar data to visual observations. Today, nearly every new aircraft comes standard with this technology. Now John’s effort involve educating pilots on the differences between the Baron Weather satellite delivered radar and weather and the data broadcast through the FAA’s ADS-B system.
After having to take an early retirement from KCCI due to a medical condition, John moved back to western Iowa and resides in Greene County. His passion for weather could not be stopped by his illness, so he decided to partner with his colleagues at Baron Weather and his family’s New Way Ford car dealership in Coon Rapids, IA to create of the “Storm Hunter” weather app.
The new app features some of the same technology John used on TV for many years to warn Iowan’s of dangerous storms. The Safety Net Alerts allow the user to customize up to eight locations to receive notice of approaching storms, lightning, twisting winds and of course all official National Weather Service warnings. 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 found only on the Storm Hunter app.”