Worker at major Springfield employer to appear on Weather Channel

A Springfield meteorologist specializing in predicting how catastrophic storms will affect insurance clients will appear on a national Weather Channel show on Sunday.

Bryan Wood started his career at Assurant’s Global Housing Division as a call center representative but worked his way into an unusual job predicting how weather patterns might impact the company’s clients. Now Wood is scheduled to appear on the show “Weather Geeks” at noon Sunday on the Weather Channel.

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Assurant didn’t have a meteorologist when he arrived but Wood said they soon saw value in what he could offer.

The business, one of Springfield’s biggest employers, now uses weather forecasts to predict what resources might be needed to provide insurance services more quickly in case of severe weather damage. The company’s Global Housing Division provides insurance and related services in partnership with financial institutions and other major clients. It has more than 1,800 workers.

“Having been on site after some of these disasters, it’s important to take what I know and work with that information to enable our clients to make sure our customers are taken care of,” Wood said. “When you get down to these places you see the amount of stress and fatigue on people’s faces. They’re not living in their house. They might be living in a hotel or an apartment. Homes are your place of comfort and safety and suddenly that’s been taken away from you.”

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Wood, an Akron native, was about 5 years old when he began watching Cleveland Meteorologist Dick Goddard. Those broadcasts sparked a lifelong interest in weather, he said.

“I just started asking questions and my parents got me books from the library,” Wood said. “I’ve never stopped asking questions I guess. They’ve just become a lot more complex and difficult questions.”

Wood’s career took an unusual path. He initially studied his craft at Ohio State University, but dropped out and eventually moved to Fairborn. His career at Assurant started as a call center representative, but he spoke up when a manager began asking questions about why the company was fielding more calls from storm damage, he said.

The company paid for him to complete an online meteorology degree at Mississippi State University and he became its first meteorologist.

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Most newscasts about the weather focus on what viewers can expect for the days ahead. Wood said his job demands that he look further ahead.

“I’m more in the forecasting side looking at whether there could be a severe weather outbreak,” Wood said. “This time of year it’s a lot of watching the Atlantic Ocean if we see a potential threat down the road for a hurricane. We have plans already in place, but do we need to start activating those plans as soon as something happens so we’re there and ready to help people?”

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Mike Chesterfield, executive producer at “Weather Geeks,” said they initially discovered Wood through social media. The show, now in its fourth season, lasts a half-hour. It’s hosted by Marshall Shepherd, former president of the American Meteorological Society.

Past guests on the show have included everyone from Environmental Protection Agency staff to tornado chasers. On the show, Wood provides advice to viewers on how to prepare for a weather disaster.

“Think about ‘Meet the Press’ except it’s for weather geeks,” Chesterfield joked.

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Wood’s idol Goddard was on television for more than 50 years. But Wood said he’s satisfied with his brief time on the Weather Channel.

“I always had a dream of being on the Weather Channel just because it was an outlet for my nerddom from a young age,” Wood said. “I kind of walked away from the TV side of that dream a while back. I had no idea that insurance hired meteorologists. It was kind of surreal last week walking into that studio and taping that show.”

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