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Posted: June 12, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Storm Chaser

Submitted Photo/

From the time Matthew Ozburn was 2, thunderstorms fascinated him. This unusual interest has developed into an intense passion for meteorology and severe weather watching.

The 16-year-old rising high school junior will have to take his parents', Glenn and Sandy Ozburn's, words for that as it's a bit too early for Matthew to remember.

His earliest weather memory is when he was about 5 at a grandmother's home and a tornado warning was issued. Everyone headed for the basement and tried to get into a room with no windows, except for Matthew, who was trying to get to a window to take a look at a twister.

"I don't know why I find weather so interesting or appealing," Matthew wrote in an email. "I think it might be how mysterious the weather can be."

His father says that Matthew got his start as a weather watcher while sitting with his mother on a screened porch watching storms approach.

"Matthew just loved that," he said. "He wouldn't want to come in."

Growing up, his dad would come in from work and sit with Matthew to watch some cartoons, but Matthew had other interests.

"We would end up watching the Weather Channel and I'd be bored to tears," his father said.

Matthew is not just some kid who is dreaming about the next tornado, he is actively pursuing them. He created a website about two years ago, weatherspotter.weebly.com, where he posts his weather pictures, blog page, updates on weather conditions and his forecasts.

His daily routine starts with his getting up and immediately checking the National Weather Service's storm prediction site, spc.noaa.gov. He then goes on to watch Dr. Greg Forbes on the Weather Channel, then checks out severstudios.com. Matthew moves on to websites for television stations in cities that are experiencing severe weather.

While doing all of this he is compiling information for his website, then provides updates throughout the day. Matthew also has a Facebook page where he has a lot of followers and is known as the Weatherman.

Matthew's parents are big boosters of his weather passion. They bought him "Iwitness" books and last year took him to AMS Weather Fest, a weather expo. That's where Matthew met some of his heroes, meteorologist stars including Brad Nitz, David Chandley, Ken Cook, Reed Timmer, Sean Kasey, and Kelly Cass. His favorite meteorologist by far is Janus Span of ABC3340. Matthew says "he is smart and knows a lot about tornadoes."

Matthew would like to make a career out of his hobby. He was considering the meteorology program at the University of Georgia, but he is more interested in severe weather, so the Mississippi State University weather program is atop his college preference list. They have a storm chasing program there that chases storms from Mississippi to Georgia.

After college, Matthew would like to work for the National Weather Service as a spotter, someone who goes around and looks for the storms and reports back to the meteorologist who issues the warning.

After doing that for a couple of years he hopes to move up and become a meteorologist. If this doesn't work out he would be satisfied with working for the Weather Channel or the National Weather Service in Atlanta.

Matthew's forecasts are reliable. His father says that his coworkers always want the word from Matthew on what to expect weather-wise when they are heading off for a vacation.

"He's just amazing," his dad said. "He really does love weather."

 

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