Registration is open for one of the best tropical meteorology conferences available to the public: The National Tropical Weather Conference (NTWC). The multi-day conference covers all major aspects of hurricane preparedness, providing a unique opportunity to learn from top experts in tropical meteorology. The event brings together meteorologists from the National Hurricane Center, the National Weather Service, television stations around the country, weather-related social media stars, and other professionals involved in the preparation before and communication/response after tropical storms or hurricanes strike. The setting for the 2019 conference is along the beach of South Padre Island, Texas, the site of several hurricane landfalls including Beulah and Dolly.
One event that happens within the conference is the unveiling of the annual Atlantic Tropical Outlook from Colorado State University’s (CSU) Tropical Meteorology Project. Research Scientist Dr. Phil Klotzbach will present the 2019 forecast. “We have been putting out our April forecast from the National Tropical Weather Conference for several years now,” Dr. Klotzbach told us. “This conference is an excellent venue for putting out our forecasts, since many broadcast meteorologists are in attendance. It is a great way to discuss our initial outlook for the hurricane season, and to receive feedback from the meteorologists on the predictions. There are many excellent speakers at the conference discussing the latest improvements and forecasting, research, and public awareness/outreach. The conference also does an excellent job at promoting camaraderie amongst the broadcast meteorological community.” Dr. Klotzbach, who earned his Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from CSU in 2007, has been employed in the Department of Atmospheric Science for the past seventeen years and was co-author on the Atlantic basin hurricane forecasts with Dr. William Gray through 2005. He became first author on the seasonal hurricane forecasts in 2006. Klotzbach developed the two-week forecasts currently being issued during the peak months of the hurricane season between August-October. He has published over two dozen articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Journal of Climate and Weather and Forecasting. And like other professionals at the conference, are available for formal interviews or casual chats.
Alex Garcia, a well-known television meteorologist with San Antonio’s KABB-TV, is one of the founders of the event. Garcia explained to us how the conference formed. “The idea for the National Tropical Weather Conference came about when the Bahamas Weather Conference ended,” Garcia said. “There was no organized effort to educate and update broadcast meteorologists about the upcoming hurricane season. I saw the need and along with my partner, Tim Smith, decided to develop a new conference that would bring together the top hurricane forecasters, social scientists, insurance professionals, resilience experts and others to address the needs of broadcast meteorologists and businesses. We started seven years ago with just ten meteorologists. We have grown about 800% as excellent reviews of the conference expanded.” Tim Smith adds, “The National Tropical Weather Conference has become the one conference which broadcast meteorologists in communities affected by hurricanes should not miss. It’s all the content they need in one convenient, affordable, fun package.” Smith is also no stranger to the broadcast meteorology world; he’s the Chief Meteorologist for KRGV-TV in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, an area that is no stranger to tropical cyclone threats.
Garcia also hinted at something special coming to The National Tropical Weather Conference: hurricane hunter aircraft! “We are working hard to bring a one-of-a-kind experience for the 2019 conference. We call it the ‘Hurricane Hunter Experience.’ We are still working out the details and [it] promises to be a unique experience that will be an ongoing feature of the conference.” At the 2018 National Tropical Weather Conference, meteorologist and Hurricane Hunter Ryan Rickert, with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, presented. He Tweeted “I’ll be there!” with regards to the 2019 event.
The event hosts professionals and fans alike from the world of weather. At previous events, general fans of storms, meteorology students, and even insurance professionals have attended. One such person was Rob Galbraith, Director of Underwriting Research for USAA. Galbraith was recently named one of the top 25 insurance and insurtech influencers by Lucep. In his role at USAA, he leads a team of highly skilled professionals in Property Underwriting which is responsible for establishing and maintaining USAA’s guidelines in catastrophe-prone areas to accommodate as many members as possible while protecting the financial strength of their association. We asked Galbraith why he attends. “I attend the NTWC each year because it is the best place to go to hear a full recap of the previous year’s storms and find out what lessons have been learned to help us better prepare for these devastating storms,” Galbraith said. “Top broadcast meteorologists from around the country share their stories of how hurricanes have impacted their communities and top research meteorologists share what key takeaways they’ve gained through their work.” Beyond the content, Galbraith also praises the networking possible at the event. “The networking is second to none as hosts Alex Garcia and Tim Smith make this a family affair where you can catch up with old friends and make new ones that will endure over the years.”
The 2019 National Tropical Weather Conference already has an all-star line-up scheduled. ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” meteorologist Ginger Zee is scheduled to do her weather hits for the top-rated morning show there. Zee is also scheduled to present the Robert & Joanne Simpson Award for “Outstanding and Continued Service in Hurricane Outreach and Preparedness” to the winner. Also on the schedule: former FEMA Director Craig Fugate, National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham, Jason Samenow from the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang, and “hardcore hurricane hunter” Josh Morgerman, best known in social media as “iCyclone” on Twitter.
With #HurricaneHector & other storms on the way, we heard some teens interested in hopping on a plane to chase them. Here’s some advice chaser extraordinare @iCyclone has for young storm enthusiasts at the 2018 NTWC: pic.twitter.com/R5L5YTVthn
— the Weatherboy (@theWeatherboy) August 6, 2018
The event runs April 3 – 5 at the Hilton Garden Inn on South Padre Island. Early registration is open through March 20 for $200; after March 20, the registration fee jumps to $299. Registration includes full conference access, an opening reception on Wednesday, breakfast on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, lunch on Thursday and Friday, a dinner out in the town in South Padre, a Farewell Dinner, snacks and drinks during conference breaks on Thursday and Friday, and conference materials. Registered visitors also receive an official conference polo shirt that people are encouraged to wear for a group photograph. Not included in the registration is the hotel room, however, the Hilton Garden Inn is offering a special conference rate from $104/night for junior suites and ocean view rooms that look out onto the Gulf of Mexico. The conference even welcomes family members; spouses or kids can register as your guest for an additional $150/adult or $75/child 17 and under. Online registration information is available here.