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Clear skies ahead for Kastor

MOLINE — Though meteorologist Neil Kastor is retiring soon after 25 years with WQAD NewsChannel 8, he has no plans to retire from watching the weather.

Kastor said he has also already started his own meteorological consulting company which deals with forensic meteorology. He will work part time as a consultant, which is something he’s done during the past several years.

His retirement will also include a move to warmer weather.

Pending the sale of his house in Rock Island, Kastor and his wife, Mary, along with dog, Rudy, and horse, Marty, will move to Florida to enjoy the year-round sunshine and a more relaxed life. In his free time, there’s always golf and fishing, two of his favorite hobbies.

“Life is very circular. My fascination with weather began as a kid sitting on the porch, watching the storms go by. That’s what I’m reverting back to, with our move to Florida,” Kastor said. “It will be nice to be able to kick back and watch the weather go by instead of being buried in a studio in front of a computer.”

His interest in weather goes back as far back as he can remember, the Malden native said.

“I can remember one storm when I was 4 years old. The storm was documented because it blew down trees, and everyone remembers the date. That storm began my fascination with weather and watching each day’s weather pass by,” Kastor said. “Watching the day’s weather led me to scratching my head and wondering what tomorrow would be like. That’s one part of my life that has never changed.”

The career of a meteorologist was an obvious choice for him, Kastor said. After graduating from Malden High School, he attended Northern Illinois University, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in meteorology.

As a meteorologist, Kastor has enjoyed the challenge of forecasting and the fact that no two days are ever the same, though the hours can be long and odd. It’s a difficult environment in which to raise a family, he said.

Kastor said there have been quite a few memorable weather events during his career.

“I do recall a hail storm we had at the station in 1990. It produced hail to nearly three inches in diameter. I had not before, nor have I since, witnessed any hail that large,” Kastor said. “At the time that storm passed over the station, I told our chief photographer to follow this storm because it was a good candidate for a tornado.

Ten minutes later, this storm did produce a tornado which reached F3 intensity between Port Byron and Cordova.”

There were also at least a couple other times when Kastor’s been in potentially dangerous situations with the weather, specifically with potential tornadoes.

“The first time was in 1978 while working for Weather Central in Madison, Wis. I was the only one in the office at 4 a.m. when a large thunderstorm was passing by. The sound of the wind blowing was the classic howl of what one would expect with a tornado. I later determined the unusual noise coming from the 1,200 foot tower under which our office was situated,” Kastor said.

“The second event was at Channel 8 (in Moline) when we had tornado reports approaching from the southwest. It got pretty wild and became a threatening situation, especially so because we were in a large open studio, exactly what we tell people to avoid.”

Dealing with the weather, not to mention actually forecasting that weather, can be stressful at times because meteorology is not an exact science, Kastor said.

“On some occasions, there may be a nearly equal chance for a weather event to happen or not to happen at all,” Kastor said. “The biggest challenge in being a meteorologist is in communicating because a lot of people hear only what they want to hear.

“Seldom do any major weather events really change at the last minute. A good forecaster will always factor in as many variables, which could bring change as possible,” Kastor said.

Concerning future weather and the issue of global warming, Kastor is one meteorologist who isn’t so sure about the cause or extent of global warming.

“I have never bought into the idea that all of our warming has been induced by human activity,” Kastor said. “In fact, there are many in the scientific community who have found reason to believe we may be actually going into a cooler period for the next 30 years. Globally, 2008 was the coolest year in the last decade. There are many reasons for these weather cycles, too numerous to mention.”

Though a public figure for 25 years in the Quad Cities area, Kastor said there are some things about him which people would probably be surprised to know.

“Most people probably think I spend most of my life in a suit and tie. They would be surprised to know that three days a week, I can be found at the horse barn where we keep our horse, cleaning his stall,” Kastor said. “I also have become slightly addicted to “The Young and the Restless” ... It’s actually pretty interesting!”

As he approaches his retirement, Kastor said he hopes his impact on the Quad Cities viewing area has been positive.

“The feedback I receive would seem to indicate that most people have grown to trust most of what I say most of the time, and that’s a pretty good feeling.” Kastor said.

With two brothers still living in Bureau County, Kastor said he plans on still getting back to his old haunts every once in a while. He said Bureau County will always remain near and dear to his heart.

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