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Big Island Meteorologist One of Top 5 National Award Finalists

January 18, 2019, 8:00 AM HST
* Updated January 18, 10:30 AM
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Michael Phillips, with the Weatherboy mascot, measured snowfall on top of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Summit after a recent snowstorm. Courtesy photo.

Big Island resident Michael Phillips and his team of meteorologists who report under the Weatherboy brand are a top-five finalist in the National Weatherperson of the Year Awards, a press release stated on Jan. 17, 2019.

The National Weatherperson of the Year Award is presented to a weatherperson with a record of proven commitment to protecting the public from severe weather through excellence in communication and service to the disaster safety and resilience movement.

Michael Phillips, with the Weatherboy mascot, traveled along the Puna coast with Ikaika Marzo to report on the ocean entry of lava during Kilauea’s latest eruption. Courtesy photo

More than 70 meteorologists from television, private industry and the government were nominated.

Phillips is the lead meteorologist on the Weatherboy team, which reports on weather and environmental news stories around the world for weatherboy.com and for more than 300,000 social media followers using “theWeatherboy” in Facebook and Snapchat, “@theWeatherboy” on Twitter and “WeatherboyWeather” on Instagram. The Weatherboy brand is represented by a cartoon character in various weather scenes. Stuffed versions of the brand mascot are used in the field by team meteorologists observing different weather or earth science conditions.

In 2018, Phillips took advantage of his location in Hawai‘i to bring Weatherboy’s national audience breaking weather and earth science news from the Aloha State. In April, Phillips covered the Hawai‘i Wildfire Summit, bringing video and images on wildfire news and safety information to a nationwide audience. When Kīlauea erupted, Phillips was streaming live from inside Leilani Estates, sharing stunning visuals from the eruption on the ground and in the air from Weatherboy’s aerial video drone. When hurricane season arrived, Phillips broadcast from the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu with National Weather Service‘s John Bravender for a special on Hurricane Hector. Phillips also covered Hurricane Lane’s impacts on Hawai‘i and Tropical Storm Olivia’s impacts on Maui.

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In the spring, Phillips was also invited by the European Space Agency (ESA) to attend a rocket launch event at ESA headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany. As just one of 20 people in the world invited to observe the launch from the European Space Operations Center (ESOC), Phillips witnessed the Sentinel-3b Earth Observing satellite on its journey into space in April.

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Other meteorologists from the Weatherboy team covered other major weather events across the country. From witnessing Punxsutawney Phil popping out of his home in Pennsylvania on Groundhog’s Day to covering landfalling hurricanes in the Sunshine State from Florida’s coast, the team provided actionable weather forecasts and reports to keep people informed and safe throughout the year.

The National Weatherperson of the Year Award was created by FLASH, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. The nonprofit FLASH organization is the country’s leading consumer advocate for strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and manmade disasters. The FLASH partnership includes more than 100 innovative and diverse organizations that share a vision of making America a more disaster-resilient nation including: BASF Corporation, FEMA, Florida Division of Emergency Management, Huber Engineered Woods, International Code Council, the National Weather Service, Portland Cement Association, Simpson Strong-Tie, State Farm and USAA.

The five finalists are featured in a poll on FLASH’s Facebook page that is open to the public until Jan. 25. Based on the results of that poll, FLASH will announce the winner on February 1 ahead of National Weatherperson’s Day, a holiday created to celebrate individuals for their efforts in the fields of meteorology, weather reporting, and weather data collection. It is observed on the birthday of John Jeffries, the U.S.’s first weather observer that took daily weather measurements in the 1700’s.

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Finalists also include Jeff Linder, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District in Texas; Dr. Matthew Sitkowski, an executive weather producer with The Weather Channel cable network; Tom Skilling, chief meteorologist for WGN-TV in Chicago, Ill.; and James Spann, chief meteorologist for ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, Ala.

Past winners of the National Weatherperson of the Year Award included Ada Monzon, meteorologist for WIPR-TV in Puerto Rico (2018); Dr. Richard Knabb, hurricane expert for The Weather Channel (2017); Alex Garcia, chief meteorologist for KABB-TV (2016); Max Mayfield, former director of the National Hurricane Center (2015); and Jim Cantore, meteorologist for The Weather Channel (2014).

“It is an incredible honor to be recognized for all of our efforts in 2018 forecasting and reporting on everything from blizzards to fires, from earthquakes to volcanoes, and from hurricanes to tropical storms,” Phillips said. “It is very humbling to be in the running with other meteorological legends; I’m in awe that we made it this far.”

Phillips is a member of the American Meteorological Society, the National Weather Association and the Big Island Press Club.

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