‘School First, Tweet Later’

Student’s Weather-Focused Account Takes Off

Man stands with umbrella outside
Colin McCarthy’s weather-focused Twitter account, which he started when he was 13, is nearing 100,000 followers. His posts have been seen millions of times. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

One of UC Davis’ newest students can add Face to Face With Chancellor May to his growing list of media mentions.

Purple graphic with text "Face to Face with Chancellor May"

That list for Colin McCarthy, a freshman studying atmospheric science, already includes the likes of the BBC, NBC and CBS, all of which took notice of his Twitter account covering extreme weather around the world. He sat down with Chancellor Gary S. May to discuss his career aspirations, path to social media stardom and more.

“You’re Twitter famous — more famous than me,” May told him, noting the 91,500 followers of his @US_Stormwatch account. “I’m jealous.”

McCarthy said he started the Twitter account for fun when he was 13 as an extension of his interest in the outdoors.

“But then in 2020, when we had all those wildfires, I really started taking it serious,” McCarthy said. “And since then it’s really exploded.”

In fact, his posts about Hurricane Ian last fall were viewed 30 million times. On his first day of school at UC Davis, he was being interviewed by CBS Sacramento. He’s also been quoted in Dateline UC Davis and UC Davis Magazine.

He told May that he hopes to become a meteorologist after graduating, but is still deciding between specializations like storm chasing, working in television, or forensic meteorology — reconstructing weather events, say, as a courtroom expert.

McCarthy said the growing popularity of his Twitter is a strong lure whenever powerful weather is having an impact, but he reminds himself “to focus on school and get the good grades so I can get my degree.”

May called that decision “very wise.”

“School first, tweet later,” May said.

Watch their full conversation in the video above to learn more, like the weather-related movie McCarthy prefers, and to hear his questions for Chancellor May.

Media Resources

Cody Kitaura is a News and Media Relations Specialist in the Office of Strategic Communications, and can be reached by email or at 530-752-1932.

Primary Category

Secondary Categories

Student Life University