by Chris Karenbauer
It was a Sunday afternoon when Ben Richmond discovered his new love. His brother had a jam session after church. So, the family stayed behind. The skies grew dark and the clouds heavy. The power inside the church went out. The calm before the storm.
Suddenly, the wind blew so hard that leaves spun just outside the window, while trees fell from their place. Richmond placed a hand on the window. He felt the window vibrate under the pressure of the wind.
It was a tornado. Albeit a small one, it did some damage. From this moment when he was a young junior high student in Michigan, Richmond became fascinated with weather.“My fascination with weather is that it is something we cannot control but can be understood,” says Richmond. “Weather frequently changes, and no two different storms are the same. Seeing the science behind why these storms form and what makes them so strong is what really fascinates me, and a greater understanding of how it works can help me show people what is taking place when weather phenomena take place.”
During the spring semester of his freshman year at Cedarville University, Richmond picked up studying weather and its patterns as a hobby. One day, he thought to himself, “Why don’t I just turn this into something I do on social media?”
He created a CU Weather page, initially posting forecasts and storm warnings on Instagram. From then on, Richmond became known as the “CU Weather guy”.
“I just started [CU Weather], the day before a big storm outbreak was supposed to happen,” says Richmond. “We got a tornado warning, which really drew attention to it. So, it sort of got it more initiated and launched and got a lot more people interested in it.”
Richmond is currently in his senior year of college. He maintains the CU Weather account by himself, mainly for students on campus. Richmond has noticed more interest as the months go by.
“It’s even helped people outside of Cedarville quite a bit,” says Richmond. “Like, parents have contacted me, saying, ‘I really appreciate what you’re doing. It’s really helping me feel a lot better about what’s going on down there with my student at the school’.”
On top of his school studies, Richmond spends his free time researching different weather applications and websites to come up with the most accurate reports for the Cedarville region.
Richmond takes the information he finds and calculates an average of the forecasts, creating a report for Cedarville’s campus. On quiet weeks, Richmond publishes his reports weekly. On more active weeks, he will post daily on the CU Weather Instagram story.
“I think it’s better to have something that’s very specific to a location: so, Cedarville University,” say Richmond. “The local weather authorities have a whole region to deal with, but if you have one person in a specific spot, it helps them understand what could happen more specifically in this region than in other regions.”
CU Weather has come a long way since the beginning of Richmond’s freshman year. His Instagram page has nearly tripled since then. Now, CU Weather has over 1,300 followers.
Not only did his Instagram page grow popular, but Cedarville University’s Production Services took notice of Richmond’s talent as a weather forecaster. They hired Richmond to help them with forecasts during the fall semester of 2020 for outdoor chapels.
“He has this passion for [weather], and he has built up this level of knowledge and expertise,” says Brandon Waltz, the director of Production Services. “He’s using it to serve our community. He is serving us well, and I’m very thankful for him.”
Richmond dedicated his four years of college using his love of weather to help Cedarville faculty and students understand weather in a specific location.
“I’m just thankful for the opportunity to have done this for the past three years,” says Richmond. “It’s made my experience at Cedarville all the more interesting. And just the opportunities I’ve had because of [CU Weather] and all the opportunities I will have because of this experience has been extremely beneficial.”
Though the future is uncertain for CU Weather, Richmond’s experience with it will take him far in his future.
Chris Karenbauer is a sophomore Broadcasting and Digital Media major and a writer for Cedars. She loves writing, traveling and reading. You would most likely find her hanging out with her friends in Chick-fil-a or Stingers.