Weather Watch: Frequently Asked Questions

Weather Watch

With this being the 8th anniversary issue of Saline County Lifestyles, I thought it would be fun to pick 8 of my most frequently asked questions. In no particular order:

Q: What does the rain percentage really mean?

A: If I say there is a 20% chance of rain or storms, it means there is a 20% chance of measureable precipitation at any given point within a forecast area. It doesn’t quantify how much rain, or any certain location. It could be very little or an inch or more anywhere! If one or two very isolated storms pop-up, and remain stationary, they could produce damage from heavy rain, wind or hail. While a neighboring county may not see a drop! By the way, I almost never use 100%. I think 90% pretty much gets the point across that it’s going to rain!

Q: Do you get nervous when on TV?

A: Actually, no. When I first got into the business, my Mom gave me a piece of advice I carry with me, “Just be yourself.” That’s what I try to do on or off camera. Sometimes I feel the weight of the awesome responsibility I have to inform and try to help keep the public safe during severe weather.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: I love it when I get a challenging forecast right. Sure some days are easier than others, but the rain and snow forecasts are always a bit tough, and being wrong is never fun.

Q: Why do tornadoes seem to travel up Interstate 30?

A: I-30 was built where the mountains of western Arkansas meet the flat prairie land of eastern Arkansas. This topography lends itself to winds coming out of the Ouachitas and interacting with the warmth and humidity that sits across the rest of the state. The road also goes from the SW to the NE, which is the same direction the majority of tornadoes travel.

Q: What do I need to do to become a meteorologist?

A: To be a broadcast meteorologist, you need to be able to communicate, in a clear and concise way, the effects that the atmosphere has on all of us every day. Knowledge of computers, science and math certainly helps as you pursue a degree in meteorology.

Q: Do you like covering severe weather and tornadoes?

A: I’ve seen what tornadoes can do to families and people’s lives. I will never get used to it and have trouble digesting the destruction. I never look forward to severe weather but always handle it with the respect it deserves.

Q: What is it like working with Craig O’Neill?

A: A legend in his own mind! Just kidding. It is an honor and privilege to get to work with a man who has helped so many during his career. He is a truly gifted individual.

Q: Have you met a lot of famous people?

A: No, I haven’t. I guess the most famous person I’ve met is Billy Gibbons, lead guitarist and leader of ZZ Top. I tried to bond with him by telling him we are fellow Houstonians, but he seemed unimpressed! Go figure

The questions and comments I get hardly ever change. Sometimes people try to come up with something different and that is refreshing and sometimes even has me referring back to my college text books! I could have easily gone up to 20 questions; maybe I’ll do that in 12 years.