KFOR’s Grant Johnston
Severe weather brought KFOR meteorologist Grant Johnston to Oklahoma, but it’s Edmond’s balance between small town and big city that helps to keep him here.
In 2002, he joined David Payne and Mike Morgan on the 4Warn Storm Team. As he looked to relocate from Missouri, Edmond held immediate appeal.
“The suburb I grew up in, in Kansas City, is called Lee’s Summit,” Johnston said. “It’s a little bit bigger than Edmond but very similar. I like to be able to go downtown and still have that old downtown, hometown atmosphere. That’s pretty cool.”
Finding Edmond, though, was a bonus for an already appealing situation. After graduating from the University of Missouri in 1999, Johnston knew that Oklahoma held a great deal of intrigue for a young meteorologist. After all, the state is in the middle of “tornado alley” and has its share of changing weather patterns over the course of a year.
“It’s a unique environment, this part of the country,” Johnston said. “Being in severe weather central was just really exciting to me. It’s kind of a dream job to be in Oklahoma when you begin as a meteorologist.”
Johnston’s beginning wasn’t exactly a direct route to being a weatherman. In fact, he thought he would go into medicine in college. His father is a physician, and it seemed like a natural fit. Weather always fascinated him, though, and while he didn’t know he’d make a career out of it, he recalls the early interest.
“I’d run outside whenever we had storms rolling through,” he said with a laugh. “I was probably the only 12-year-old watching the Weather Channel. I can always remember the weather guys in Kansas City; sometimes they would just miss the forecast. And I’d be really upset because I would put off my homework thinking we were going to get a snow day. I thought maybe I could get into that and change things.”
Johnston said his parents were very supportive, encouraging his interest by setting up meetings at local television stations. He was able to meet the meteorologists and see their work. Although he admits treating it more as a hobby in the beginning, his weather wonder never ceased and eventually led him to a career he loves.
Working as a meteorologist involves much more than a newscast viewer sees, and Johnston’s schedule is anything but regular. Preparing a weather report requires a great deal of work before the cameras ever come on. The weather maps and forecasting models are analyzed and on-air graphics are prepared. With public appearances at schools and other sites, Johnston typically works weekdays and weekends. But severe weather can often mean even more time as the team goes out to track storms.
“We’ll sit there sometimes for a couple of hours before something develops,” Johnston said. “The whole idea is that you have to be ahead of the game. We have a pretty good idea where a storm’s going to break out several hours in advance. We’re the eyes out in the field.”
Having those eyes helps to put into context all the information meteorologists have on hand. From the ever-improving Doppler radar to NewsChannel 4’s million-watt television radar, forecasts are more accurate than ever. Technology previously only available to the government and the world’s top scientists is now helping with the most important aspect of Johnston’s job.
“The bottom line is, no matter how you slice it, we’re here to help protect people and their property,” he said. “The aim is to save lives and increase warning time.”
Johnston has been doing just that for the Oklahoma City area for nearly four years. But his career is only one side of his life. Charity and spirituality constitute another. He is actively involved in Life Church and its nationwide mission trips. Last September, Johnston went to New York City as part of an inner-city outreach program.
“That’s definitely something that’s been high on my list as far as things that I do outside of work,” Johnston said. “I’m single, and I figure I’ve got time to do some of these things right now. And God has placed me in a position to do things like that before family obligations come along.”
In between all of that, Johnston still finds time to play softball and run, completing the Dallas marathon last December. He even has his pilot’s license. He also has a passion for music and is a songwriter. Johnston said playing his keyboard is one of his favorite methods of relaxation. His career and his extracurricular activities combine to make him feel good about where he is in the world, he said.
“Before I moved to Oklahoma City, I had been hopping from job to job working my way up to a bigger market,” Johnston said. “So I finally found a place where I’m content and very happy. I’m going to be open to whatever God has for me, but I’m very content with where I am now.”