StormCenter 7 expands meteorology team

Published: Thursday, May 07, 2015 @ 3:50 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 07, 2015 @ 3:50 PM


            Eric Elwell has been named chief meteorologist for StormCenter 7. Elwell, top left, has more than two decades of experience, most of it in Ohio, including 14 years as chief meteorologist for the Ohio News Network. He joins Rich Wirdzek, top row, center; Kirstie Zontini, top, right; McCall Vrydaghs, bottom left; Brett Collar, bottom center, and Carrieann Marit, bottom right. Collar is also new to the StormCenter 7 team. Elwell and Collar will start in June.
Eric Elwell has been named chief meteorologist for StormCenter 7. Elwell, top left, has more than two decades of experience, most of it in Ohio, including 14 years as chief meteorologist for the Ohio News Network. He joins Rich Wirdzek, top row, center; Kirstie Zontini, top, right; McCall Vrydaghs, bottom left; Brett Collar, bottom center, and Carrieann Marit, bottom right. Collar is also new to the StormCenter 7 team. Elwell and Collar will start in June.

WHIO TV and Radio will add two new nationally certified broadcast meteorologists to the StormCenter 7 Team, expanding on its commitment to provide 24/7 weather coverage on air, online, in print, and on your personal digital devices and social platforms.

The additions create a team of six fully-accredited meteorologists focusing on local weather.

Eric Elwell has been named chief meteorologist for StormCenter 7. Elwell has more than two decades of experience, most of it in Ohio. That includes 14 years as chief meteorologist for the Ohio News Network, where Elwell led his team to six Ohio Associated Press awards for “Best Weather Operation.” He is currently the weekend meteorologist at WBNS-TV in Columbus.

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“I am very excited to be joining Cox Media Group, WHIO TV and Radio, and a very talented team of meteorologists,” Elwell said. “The commitment, resources and technology that WHIO dedicates to keeping the Miami Valley safe from severe weather is unmatched. I look forward to leading the StormCenter 7 team and making the Miami Valley my home.”

Elwell holds the Certified Broadcast Meteorologist designation from the American Meteorological Societyand the National Weather Association seal of approval. He is a graduate of Mississippi State University with a bachelor’s degree in geosciences with an emphasis in earth sciences and broadcast meteorology.

No stranger to tornado coverage, Elwell began his career in Tupelo, Miss., then moved to Wichita, Kansas, for three years before joining ONN.

Rich Wirdzek moves from mornings to mid-day meteorologist. This new position allows Wirdzek to play a key role in StormCenter 7’s severe weather coverage at any time. Wirdzek, who has been with WHIO for nearly nine years, also will be seen daily on Channel 7’s noon and 5:30 p.m. newscasts, heard on AM 1290 and News 95.7 WHIO, and be an important presence on WHIO’s digital and social platforms.

Kirstie Zontini becomes the new morning meteorologist for WHIO TV and Radio. The audiences for News Center 7 Daybreak, and AM 1290 and News 95.7’s Miami Valley morning news are familiar with the Ohio University graduate. Zontini has led morning weather coverage in the Storm Center the past five months.

McCall Vrydaghs will be Storm Center 7’s senior weekend meteorologist. Vrydaghs, who has been with StormCenter7 nearly three years, will continue her work on all platforms on weekdays. She’ll also be used live in local communities, tracking storms and showing the effects of weather on local neighborhoods.

Brett Collar joins WHIO TV and Radio as the new weekend morning meteorologist. Collar is an AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and was most recently at KLTV in Tyler, Texas. Collar is a graduate of Central Michigan University and served an internship at WJBK-TV in Detroit.

Carrieann Marit resumes her role as StormCenter 7’s team leader/meteorologist – coordinating the efforts of all six WHIO meteorologists in TV, radio, and print, as well as overseeing new initiatives on the team’s digital and social platforms.

Elwell and Collar are both scheduled to join StormCenter 7 in mid to late June.

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