I am a 7th grader at West Lee Middle School in Sanford NC. I have a science project that I am working on. Part of the assignment is to write a letter to a local meteorologist and ask the following questions: What does a meteorologist do?
Posted October 7, 2007
MIKE MOSS SAYS: Jeremy, Here are answers to your two questions. Good luck!
What exactly a meteorologist does can vary greatly, depending on the type of meteorologist, and there are research meteorologists, air pollution meteorologists, military meteorologists, forensic meteorologists and more. We are "broadcast meteorologists" here at WRAL. Our duties include analyzing weather data, including surface and upper air maps, radar and satellite images, lightning data, and computer model forecast text and graphics, and from this process making detailed forecasts of cloud cover, precipitation potential, temperatures and winds for the next 48 hours or so, and more general forecasts out to five days in advance. We are then responsible for presenting these forecasts in radio broadcasts for the North Carolina News Network (about 85 stations) and for our sister radio stations WRAL-FM and WCMC-FM three times a day, updating weather forecasts on our web site and a number of telephone recordings 3-4 times per day, and producing graphics and presenting weather forecasts on WRAL-TV, WRAZ-TV, and WILM-TV several times throughout the day. We also occasionally record special radio forecasts for the Durham Bulls, record TV forecasts that air on the 24-Hour WRAL Newschannel and WeatherCenter Channel on HDTV, Digital Cable, on WRAL.com, on the Fayetteville Observer web site and on some cell phones, and at times record taped forecasts that run on the RBC Center Jumbotron during Carolina Hurricanes and NCSU Wolfpack games at the arena. We also frequently make presentations to school and civic groups, and appear at events like the State Fair on behalf of WRAL. Finally, there's lot of e-mail to answer, along with the "Ask the Meteorologist" feature on WRAL.com, the AskGreg column in the News & Observer and the WeatherCenter Blog on our web site, and we have to take care of routine things like keeping all the computers in the WeatherCenter up and running and conducting training on new weather analysis and presentation systems (like VIPIR, Live HD weather and Dual Doppler 5000) and keeping up on the state of the art in meteorology through review of journal and news articles on the subject, and attendance at occasional seminars and training sessions conducted by the National Weather Service or NCSU. We also have to be prepared to work long shifts during snow or ice storms and hurricanes, and to break into programming and provide emergency information in the event of severe thunderstorms or tornadoes (the official warnings for these events are issued by the National Weather Service) or sometimes an event like the Apex chemical storage facility fire and evacuation that is not directly weather-related but is impacted greatly by the weather that occurs as it happens.
To become a meteorologist, usually you begin by attending a college that offers a degree in meteorology or atmospheric science, although sometimes people who have degrees in math, computer science, physics or engineering will attend a university to get a graduate degree in meteorology and will enter the field that way. Also, military weather forecasters in the Navy, Marines or Air Force can attend special training programs to learn their craft without obtaining a college degree. After college or training, you simply look for and apply for available positions in the branch of meteorology that you feel most interested in or best suited to.
Here are links to excellent descriptions of meteorological jobs in a broader sense. These two addresses have some good information on the wide variety of meteorology and atmospheric science careers that are available: