Eric Elwell to pass on Chief Meteorologist Torch to McCall Vrydaghs

Vrydaghs: Why did I become a meteorologist? It’s not the typical story.

I am often asked, “What made you want to become a meteorologist?” My answer may not be the typical response, but it is an honest one.

I was born and raised in southern New York state, just 60 miles north of New York City. The weather there is nothing like what we see here in Ohio. On a rare occasion we might see a small hail event or a very brief spin-up tornado, but it’s not often.

Some of the most intense weather I grew up near included nor’easters. I can remember blizzard conditions and snow that could stack up higher than a foot with just one storm. While this sounds fantastic for some, I hated the snow.

READ MORE: McCall Vrydaghs named Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist

Snowdays are what most kids look forward to, not just to get out of school, but to play in the snow. I was not that typical kid. My mother would bundle me up in several layers to stay warm, then I would go outside and be ready to come back in within 10 minutes.

You might be asking yourself: If I hated the weather so much, why did I chose to go into meteorology? Well, it really started with my desire to be a broadcaster. Anytime someone would turn a camera on, I was first to jump right in front.

Making a fool of myself was never a fear of mine. I also remember my brother had an amazing radio that would let you record to tape. I would make my brother, sister and friends pretend to be on my radio shows. This, of course, would evolve into a love for musicals and being on stage. While participating in my high school musicals were fun, it was another high school class, or should I say teacher, that opened my eyes to weather.

I was also impacted by my high school earth sciences teacher, who opened by eyes to weather. She showed me a world that was so much bigger than I ever thought to imagine. Not only was it intriguing, but I found I excelled at this type of science. This passion would grow over the next few years and I would find I also excelled at chemistry and physics. 

Then, during my sophomore year of high school, Hurricane Floyd impacted my hometown as a tropical storm. I had never seen anything like it and was immediately hooked.

My newfound love for weather and my child-like passion for broadcasting made my decision easy when choosing a major for college. Of course, it had to meteorology. And of course, it had to be at SUNY Oswego.

My family would laugh because Oswego is known for intense lake effect snow, and as you read earlier, snow is not my favorite. So why did I chose it? My local meteorologist, Al Roker, attended SUNY Oswego, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. If he could go to a state school and achieve his dream, then so could I.

Thank you all for your support over the years. And to those working towards a dream, just keep going. The path isn’t always easy, but it’s worth the journey.

McCall Vrydaghs was named the new Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist at WHIO-TV on Nov. 19.

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