Forecasting every day makes the job a little easier

850mb temperature map

As I enter my 10th year of working in the world of TV weather I am reminded of how lucky I’ve been to only have jobs that require a weather broadcast every day. I’ve held the positions of morning meteorologist (twice), chief meteorologist, and now weekend/midday meteorologist.  Some meteorologists (especially in smaller TV markets) only get to forecast and broadcast the weather 2 days per week. They spend the rest of their work week reporting or producing for the news department. As I return from 2 weeks of “paternity vacation” I was reminded how tough a fresh start to forecasting can be.

For each work day I spend about 1 hour looking at weather maps, numerical models, satellite images, etc. before jotting down my forecast in handwriting that’s so awful I’m the only one who can decode it. On Tuesday, my first day back to work, it took a little longer. While learning to be a dad for the first time I skipped looking at any weather maps for nearly 2 weeks (but I’m pretty sure I had a good excuse). So instead of looking at all the typical weather information and thinking “yeah, that looks about right” my reaction was closer to “OK, it’s going to do that? Go there? Develop when?”.  It was a cold start to forecasting, I had no previous knowledge of what the computer models were forecasting days in advance. Of course I took the extra time to fully comprehend what the weather was doing that day and how it would affect the pattern over the remainder of the week. I’m proud to say my Tuesday forecast was quite accurate, cool, breezy, with afternoon showers popping up right on schedule. But again, it took a little longer to formulate the prediction.

When I returned to work this morning, business was a little easier. Before opening up the internet to gather weather information, I already knew we’d be on the backside of high pressure with a warm front marching our way. I knew a warm breeze would kick in from the southwest after a chilly start to the morning. The patterns and numbers I was crunching in my head were not a surprise. Basically, I already had the rough draft of the forecast in my head from looking at data the day before.

Assembling a forecast each day makes the next day’s forecast a little easier and more precise. But of course nothing is fool-proof. Every now and then Mother Nature throws a knee-buckling curve ball into the mix, something unforeseen the day before. When that happens all you can do is crumple up the forecast, toss towards the trash, pick it up off the floor since your toss missed the trash, and start over.

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