The WCCO NEXT Weather team is always looking for what's next in Minnesota's rapidly-changing weather environments. We're focused on keeping you prepared for what's next.
Is there a risk of severe weather on the horizon? Is there a winning weather day coming up? What do you need to know for your weekend outdoor activities?
Meet the members of the WCCO NEXT Weather team, who aim everyday to keep you informed.
Director of Meteorology Mike Augustyniak was drawn to Minnesota by a love of active weather, and the opportunity to forecast for some of the most weather-savvy television viewers in the country.
Since joining the WCCO team in 2008, his forecasts have helped you prepare for several of the snowiest and coldest winters on record, the largest single-day tornado outbreak in Minnesota history, the launch of a fleet of next-generation weather satellites, how climate change is impacting Minnesotans, and all of the small-but-important moments between.
In addition to watching him on WCCO, you may have also seen Mike appear nationally on shows like the Ellen DeGeneres Show, CBS Sunday Morning (where he serves as the show's meteorologist), and many other CBS News outlets. His work has been recognized with multiple Emmy Awards for broadcast excellence.
Mike's interest in weather began at an early age.
"I think my curiosity about the weather was fueled by the fact that, as a little guy, I was absolutely petrified of thunderstorms!"
In time (and with the help of a book called "Hippo Thunder"), Mike outgrew his fear, deciding in eighth grade that he wanted to study meteorology in college.
"The answers I gave on a 40-question 'interest survey' were fed into a computer, and the computer returned several careers that I might enjoy," Mike explained. "'Meteorologist' was one of the jobs the computer returned, and right then I knew it was the job for me."
In college, Mike studied meteorology under several of the world's leading research scientists at the University at Albany. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Atmospheric Science, is an AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist, one of only 250AMS Certified Consulting Meteorologists in the world, and is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
In May of 2008, Mike received his Master of Science degree in Atmospheric Science, also from the University at Albany. Findings from his master's thesis — original research on a local terrain effect called Mohawk-Hudson Convergence — is currently in use to help meteorologists make more accurate forecasts around the region.
Today he continues to support lifelong learning, science, and scientists by serving as the Commissioner on Professional Affairs for the American Meteorological Society and it's 12,000 members. He is active in local and national non-profit organizations such as Be The Match, Twin Cities Pride, Twin Cities United Way, and more.
In his free time, Mike stays active by going to the gym, biking, mixing cocktails, and playing with his Boston Terrier named Lola. He and his husband also enjoy traveling, both around the U.S. and around the world.
Lisa has been fascinated by the weather all her life. She grew up watching Midwest thunderstorms in her hometown in northwest Indiana. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology with a minor in mathematics from Valparaiso University. She also obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications, and has the American Meteorological Society Certified Broadcast Meteorologist designation, as well as a NWA Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
While at Valparaiso, she was the founding Chief Meteorologist for their college TV station VUTV, President of the Northwest Indiana American Meteorological Society/National Weather Association, and active member of the Valparaiso University Storm Intercept Team (VUSIT). Part of her involvement with the storm chase team included a 10-day convective field study in which she chased storms across the plains traveling 5,626 miles through seven states seeing her first tornado!
Before making it back to the Midwest, Lisa previously worked for CBS affiliates in Sacramento, West Texas and Central Illinois.
Riley O'Connor joined WCCO in November 2019. Look for his forecasts on WCCO This Morning from 4:30-7 a.m. and WCCO Mid-Morning from 9-10 a.m.
O'Connor comes to WCCO from Des Moines, where he served as morning meteorologist at KCCI. Before that, he was in Portland, Oregon, where he was a meteorologist for the previous three years. And prior to that, he spent three years at KTIV-TV in Sioux City.
Riley is from Evansville, Indiana. He has an undergraduate degree from Purdue and a meteorology degree from Mississippi State.
He has twin children, and loves to be outdoors, work out and cook.
"I love to plan dinner parties! Traveling is something that I love to do and on vacations you will find me finding warm weather and a beach. I am a big foodie and my favorite food is pizza," he said.
Chris Shaffer was raised in Stillwater, Minnesota and left our great state for four years to attend the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where he earned degrees in Meteorology and Mass Communications.
Chris is an Emmy award-winning meteorologist and a proud member of the American Meteorological Society. He has been awarded the AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM) designation. You may have seen him over the years doing the weather on television at KMSP FOX9 and WFTC/UPN 29. You may have also heard him back in his radio days on KOOL108, BOB100 (as Blaze Bodean), 104.1 The Point (as Cheeks), Cities 97, K102 (as Jack Wilde and himself) or KTLK.
It is no wonder why Chris is so passionate about Minnesota weather. His great uncle Wilbur was struck and killed by lightning while farming in southern Minnesota in the summer of 1952.
His family vehicle was once chased by a tornado near Maplewood, Minn. and one December on the way to Grandma and Grandpa's house, his family spent the night snowed in at a church in Winthrop, Minn., praying the blizzard would let up so they could get to Redwood Falls and open their presents the next morning.
Chris and his wife have family members all around the Twin Cities. And it's natural to forecast for the entire region with family in Pipestone, St. Cloud, Willmar, Sartell and Blooming Prairie just to name a few.
Chris loves the weather because it is always changing and is a constant challenge, much like raising his three daughters, who are as loud as a thunderstorm, pretty as a sunset and strong as a straight-line wind.
And who can forget the family pets? They've had guinea pigs, a hermit crab, a turtle, a salamander, a frog and several fish. They currently have two goldfish and their awesome Boston Terrier, Bailey.
Katie Steiner grew up in Hastings, MN (GO RAIDERS!) and loves everything about Minnesota. She left the greatest state in the union to go off to college and is absolutely thrilled to be back home.
Katie most recently worked in New Orleans, LA, where she was the weekend morning anchor and weekday morning reporter. She covered hurricanes, tropical storms, massive flooding events, and even a rare snowfall! Weather has always fascinated her, and she loves forecasting for the state of Minnesota.
Before New Orleans, Katie worked in Spokane, WA where she did a whole lot of everything. She started working as a general assignment reporter, moved to mornings, and finished up her time as the weekend weathercaster. Katie's first job on-air was at KOMU-TV, where she worked for four years while going to school at the University of Missouri.
Mornings are Katie's passion; she loves waking up well before the sun to make sure you are informed and ready for the day!
Katie is always active and very involved in her community. When she's not working, you will find her playing tennis, volleyball, swimming, water skiing (anyone with a course need a spotter???), snow skiing, cross country skiing, quilting, watching sports, and spending time with family. She is also very involved in her local church, singing at Saturday night mass.