Josh Morgerman aside, the iCyclone team is a motley crew with one unifying characteristic: an obsession with tropical cyclones.
Chase Partner & Right-hand Man
A native Texan and Gulf Coast resident, Scott Brownfield knows hurricanes—intimately—and he seems to have that priceless, innate instinct for knowing days in advance when a good chase is setting up. He's been the "right-hand man" of the iCyclone team since 2008, participating closely on every chase either in person or remotely to analyze radar and help the on-the-ground team navigate into position.
"One of my nerdy passions has always been tropical weather and online weather forums," Brownfield says. "I'd always wanted to get active as a hurricane chaser and eventually I became friends with Josh Morgerman. After spending a few years getting to know Josh, and realizing we had the same motives (more than just publicity), I finally plunged in headfirst during the 2008 season. What a first year that was, with two successful chases of Hurricanes Dolly and Gustav. But Hurricane Ike hit a little to close to home: personal responsibilities kept me from chasing that storm with Josh, who was just a few miles away in Texas City while I hunkered down with my beautiful wife at home near Freeport."
Meteorologist & Advisor
The cool scientist of the iCyclone crew, Meteorologist Adam Moyer earned a B.S. in Meteorology from Penn State in 2003 and an M.S. in Meteorology from Penn State in 2006. Additionally, he nearly completed an M.S. in Applied Statistics.
He's currently VP of Analytics with a private consulting firm near Philadelphia, where he specializes in tropical and medium-range forecasting and spends a good 80% of his time on statistical analysis, his big passion.
Moyer is the anchor forecaster of the iCyclone team and Josh Morgerman's "go-to guy" when tough decisions need to be made. Moyer's clinical, level-headed analysis nicely balances Morgerman's more impulsive nature—and his well-honed hurricane forecasting skills make him a tremendous asset to the team.
Chase Partner & Forecaster
A technologist, tropical-weather expert, and talented amateur forecaster, Jorge González also brings something else to the table: valuable knowledge of his native Mexico—not just its hurricane history but also its complex geography. Although his first in-the-field chase didn't happen until 2010, he's been a core part of the iCyclone team for several years, assisting the on-the-ground team with forecasting and navigational inputs.
"Growing up in the port of Tampico," he says, "hurricanes were always part of the local lore, with heart-wrenching stories of the 1933 and 1955 catastrophes fresh in our minds. These stories buzzed louder when the likes of Hurricane Anita '77 and Gilbert '88 (which hooked me into tropical weather) passed close by. After a couple more near misses in the early 1990s, I moved inland to Monterrey and thought my chasing days were over. Still, I followed the tropics closely, and I finally jumped back in the game in 2010 when I joined Josh to chase Hurricane Alex. The rest is history."
Geography Specialist, Radar Analyst, Safety Advisor, & Remote Chase Partner
James Hyde had his first tropical cyclone experience at age 12, when Hurricane Isabel roared ashore and flooded his hometown in 2003.
James spent the next eight years studying meteorology on his own—but when the meteorologist job market crashed, he switched his focus to geography. While attending college at Millersville University for Geographical Information Systems (GIS), James discovered the field of Emergency Management and fell in love with it. James is now on track to graduate in 2014 with a BA in Geography, with minors in Occupational Health and Safety and Emergency Management. He’s currently applying to graduate schools for Emergency Management, and plans to focus on pre-disaster decision-making and post-disaster response for events like tropical cyclones.
James joined the iCyclone team in 2013 with Hurricane Ingrid, and provided crucial support for the West Pacific chases of 2013, including the devastating Super Typhoon Haiyan.
Archivist & Tropical Meteorologist
Brian's first encounter with a hurricane was Gloria in 1985, when he was in 4th grade in Reading, Pennsylvania. While he's always been interested in earth and space sciences in general, hurricanes are a passion.
He earned his B.A. in physics and astronomy from Lycoming College in 1998, then shifted gears a bit and got his M.S. in atmospheric science from Colorado State University in 2001. He spent the next 11 years there as a research associate investigating many aspects of tropical cyclones. Early in 2012, Brian headed for the tropics and is now a senior research associate at the University of Miami, where he works in hurricane modeling and data assimilation.
Since 1996, he's been blogging about tropical activity in the Atlantic, and more recently, he was invited to join the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang as their tropical weather expert and blogger. Brian maintains an extensive archive of radar loops covering tropical cyclones around the world.
Cory Van Pelt
Chase Partner & Technician
Weather Technician Cory Van Pelt caught the cyclone bug at an early age when he listened to his grandmother's harrowing firsthand accounts of the great Texan hurricanes of the 1960s, Carla and Beulah. While his work as a Weather Technician has taken him far and wide—he's served long stints in Alaska and Nebraska—he's now happily back in his native Texas.
An inventor by nature, Van Pelt has cooked up all kinds of contraptions, including one he specifically designed for iCyclone chases: a portable magnetic mount that enables fast, sturdy installation of weather instrumentation almost anywhere. The B.A.S.T.A.R.D. (Best Automated System To Acquire and Report Data)—as it's affectionately called—performed spectacularly on its maiden test voyage, Hurricane Karl in Veracruz, when it withstood violent winds and flying debris without budging. Factoring in Josh Morgerman's feedback, Van Pelt is currently reengineering the B.A.S.T.A.R.D. and will be releasing Version 2.0, with a taller mast, in the near future.
This aside, Van Pelt has tried his hand at chasing—specifically Tropical Storm Don. Let's just say he hopes for a little more fireworks on his next expedition.
Meteorologist, Remote Chase Partner, & Archivist
A native Oregonian, Meteorologist Michael Goss got his B.S. degree in Atmospheric Science from the University of Washington in 2009. From there, he worked for a renewable energy company until 2011; now he's attending Penn State University and plans to get his Ph.D. around 2016. His current area of focus: the link between tropical convection (specifically the MJO) and extratropical weather.
Goss has played a critical role on several iCyclone chases—most notably 2008's West Gulf trio of Dolly, Gustav, and Ike—as a remote chase partner, analyzing radar imagery to help the on-the-ground team find the hurricane's inner core after they lost data access.
A native Minnesotan, young Bob Schafer's weather obsession was sparked by the Twin Cities tornado outbreak of 1965 and the twister in "The Wizard of Oz"—not to mention his Floridian grandfather's cool, hand-drawn hurricane track maps.
But his first up-close-and-personal hurricane experience was the tragic Katrina. Schafer and his then-girlfriend spent three weeks in and around New Orleans in September 2005 doing damage assessment for the Red Cross, then ironically found themselves in Hurricane Rita's path in DeRidder, Louisiana.
Schafer now lives in SE Colorado, where he can stay close to the tornado action! His best conquest? The stunning 2010 Campo Colorado tornado: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_xAP9dL0_E
A true radar junkie, Schafer has assisted past iCyclone chases as a radar analyst and meticulous archivist of radar and satellite imagery.
When Hurricane Carla smashed the Texas Coast in 1961, it made an indelible impression on the hearts and minds of many Texans. Native Houstonian Steve Ayers was one of them.
As a firefighter, Ayers wrote Standard Operating Procedures that were implemented for multiple City Operations during hurricane, severe-weather, and flash-flood events. After a half-decade stint in the Florida Keys, Ayers is back in the Houston metroplex, where he's Site Administrator for the KHOU Weather Forum.
Having personally experienced a good dozen hurricanes—and knowing Upper Texas Coast geography and emergency procedures like the back of his hand—Ayers brings unique and helpful insights to the decision-making process (not to mention good, old-fashioned emotional support!)