A few years after his conference debut, Cappucci – then in college – with a memory of a hailstorm in Oklahoma. Photograph courtesy of Matthew Cappucci
âI had gone to a weather camp in Washington after freshman year of high school, and when I got back I became more interested in doing weather observations at my local beach.
âThat summer I noticed that there had been a few tornado incidents in eastern Massachusetts that had not been documented. They weren’t like mighty Midwestern tornadoes – they were little waterspouts with winds of 70 miles an hour. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal, but they were landing near beaches, throwing things away with the potential to cause damage and injury. I discovered that these storms cut the coast at 90 degrees, and in front of that strip was a cloud spinning like a rolling pin. I started to think: maybe this rotation is the key to the formation of these waterspouts. I tested this, and it turned out to be the impetus.
“I sent my three page article to the local National Weather Service, and they said there was something to it and ended up adding additional statements to their severe thunderstorm warnings whenever these waterspouts were on. possible. For this reason, I submitted my work to the American Meteorological Society and asked if I could make a presentation. They didn’t know I was 15. You have to write if you are a student or a professional, so I wrote âstudentâ to see if they would accept. They did, which meant I had to go to Nashville in June 2013. I had my $ 10 shirt at Kohl’s and my mom came with me. Everyone thought she was the meteorologist.
âPeople seemed to expect me to start pointing fingers at pictures of pretty clouds. About 200 meteorologists were in the audience, and I had to distinguish between showing I knew my stuff and not sounding arrogant. So I said, ‘Hi everyone. I am Matthew. If anyone needs a meteorologist in six years, please hire me. Everyone laughed, and from there it went really well.
âI’ve been to these conferences year after year, and people would joke, ‘Hey, we’ll buy you a beer after your presentation.’ Last year, I was finally old enough for them to be able to.