30 Years of Living, 30 Items of Lessons Learned

30 things I have learned in the exactly 30 years I have lived:

  1. Good family and friends makes a big difference
  2. Laugh every goddamn day
  3. Be a nice person and people will usually be nice back
  4. I will always quote Dumb and Dumber, Tommy Boy, Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, and Forrest Gump no matter how old I am.
  5. Enjoy both work and your life. Otherwise, one of those will get to you eventually.
  6. Giving to people is better than receiving.
  7. Failing my first calculus class freshman year of college was one of the best lessons of my life. It taught me to work my ass off (my entire meteorology program taught me that actually)
  8. Be grateful every goddamn day.
  9. If you predict your life 10 years from today you will be wrong most of the time. Was I planning on being a web designer 10 years ago?
  10. Being a meteorologist turned web designer always turns some heads
  11. Helping people out is why I have enjoyed working in the fields I have worked in.
  12. You’re only as old as you feel and act. Hell I act 15, so therefore I’m 15.
  13. Never stop trying.
  14. Never stop learning.
  15. Never feel sorry for yourself, because there is always someone out there in a worse situation.
  16. Force feed positivity into negative situations.
  17. Quit it with your damn temper, Ian. My wife taught me a lot about dealing with that.
  18. 30 is the first start of a decade where most people aren’t in the same situation. Some are single, some married, some with kids, some struggling to make ends meet, some successful, some posing with Buddy the Elf cardboard cutouts.
  19. Go with the flow, but create your own path at the same time.
  20. I’m a better listener than talker.
  21. If you’re not happy change it.
  22. Luck plays into your life occasionally. Sometimes it’s bad luck, though.
  23. Do what you enjoy doing. I love hiking and basketball. I will never stop doing that stuff because it makes me happy.
  24. Make people laugh. I hate serious situations or really fancy restaurants because it makes me uncomfortable. Crack a joke or quote, “Lieutenant Dan ice cream!” at your fancy dinner.
  25. Exercise. I used to take 4 hour naps freshman year of college, then I found lifting weights.
  26. Indulge every once in a while.
  27. See the world. I’ve been very fortunate to do this and it teaches you a lot about yourself and society.
  28. Stop comparing yourself to others. You control your fate, not anyone else.
  29. Hockey is the best sport to watch on TV and live. I thank my college roommates for getting me into it. P.S. Let’s go Pens!
  30. Be yourself, just don’t be an asshole. People will like you for you. If they don’t, they’re not worth putting an act on for.

Ode To Gramps


“Uncle Bob”

To me and many of his other grandchildren: “Gramps.” 7 children. 13 grandchildren. 10 great-grandchildren and soon to be 11. He wouldn’t have it any other way as he showed how much he loved his family every single day. His love for his wife, family, and life in general was out of this world.

He was married to my Gram for 62 years before she passed away. They met at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, as she was a receptionist there when he worked there. They took in extended family members who were struggling and treated them like their own. Their love and respect for each other are a stunning example of true love. They are both true role models of mine.

Gramps’ storytelling skills are the best I’ve ever seen, drawing in both the oldest and youngest family and friends to quiet down to lend him their ears. From him and his brother creating scuba helmets out of cut-out, old rusty barrels and going down to the creek to test them out in Patton, PA to their family cow getting loose and ending up at the movie theater in town, his stories never got old, no matter how many times he told them.

His humor. Holy shit. He will always be the funniest person I will ever know. His laughter and happiness was infectious.

“You’re looking good today, Gramps.”
“Well, that’s because you’re looking at the wrong end.”

He enlisted in the military during WWII and was stationed in Washington and Alaska.

He was a doctor for over 50 years, starting off in general medicine as one of the few doctors in the North Hills of Pittsburgh and eventually transitioning to an eye doctor in the 1950s. He wasn’t your doctor-of-today though. He would have to make house-calls in the middle of the night to deliver babies while old Miroslav (or insert Slovak name) would be revving his motorcycle in the basement. His payment: $25 – $30 for twins or manure for his garden sometimes. He was my eye doctor for a good portion of my life. He would have people come up to him and church, thanking him for taking care of their sick family member or delivering their child.

He was an entrepreneur and incredibly creative, always building or fixing something. He loved riding up and down the hill in his backyard on his tractor. He loved it so much that he fixed the same tractor for at least 3 decades. He built a dirt tennis court in the backyard along a steep hill and put in an in-ground swimming pool by directing a natural spring to fill it. It was 60 degrees when we’d swim in it, but we didn’t care because it was a blast. The spring would also keep our pop cold while we swam.

He was a musician, playing songs on the piano with my Gram or upright bass with his family and friends in the backyard. They both definitely ingrained the music bug into me and much of my extended family.

He was an insane cross-country runner, running at Franklin & Marshall. Him and his team were honored in the early 2000s for their championship in the early 1940s.

He accomplished so much in his long, almost 95 year old life, but yet he was so humble. He never had to brag, but the people who he surrounded himself with know how incredible he was. They know they were lucky enough to spend time with him. I know I was lucky enough to spend 29 years with him. His stories, lessons, compassion, and impact on so many people’s lives will continue on with the people he touched so deeply. Your memories will forever stay with me. I’m proud to call you my Gramps. You are an inspiration to us. While I am sad you are gone from this Earth, I am so happy you are reunited with your true love, Gram, in heaven.

“Here’s a dollar. Go buy yourself a root beer.”

Hard Work Is…

Hard work.

What is it?

Who does it?

Where is it?

Hard work is the nurse who cares for patients and cleans up their bodily fluids during a 12 hour shift while studying to be a nurse practitioner during every moment outside of work.

Hard work is risking your content life in your current location to move and work tirelessly to start your own businesses and improve your quality of life.

Hard work is growing up putting cardboard in your shoes during the Great Depression, becoming a doctor, and raising 7 kids.

Hard work is a refugee leaving the violence of his home country after losing family members to work a convenient store job just so his kids can grow up in a country that provides opportunity.

Hard work is a coal miner crawling through the mines overnight, risking his health to provide for his family.

Hard work is someone who loses the ability to walk in an accident and raises funds to build a center to help those in similar situations.

Hard work is putting your kids’ needs before your own, even if it means not showering for several days.

Hard work is a meteorologist working an entire day during a tornado outbreak to help save residents’ lives despite making slightly more than minimum wage.

Hard work is a deployed member of the military not only fighting for the freedom and safety of America, but for the stability and safety of other countries.

Hard work is a minority fighting for basic human rights despite the immense hatred that comes from people in their community.

Hard work is a teacher who spends her own time and money on supplies so her students’ have one less worry when it comes to learning.

Hard work is a single mother working 3 jobs just so she can afford to put a roof over her family’s head and some food on the table.

Hard work is an artist who spends months working on a piece for a hospital so that it creates some sort of joy and hope for the patients’ there.

Hard work is growing up in Section 8 housing and finding a way to graduate from college to make a better life for yourself.

Hard work is working 21 straight hours to finish a project on time.

Hard work is helping others in need even if you need a little help in yours.

Hard work is taking a stand for what is right when right isn’t in the majority of opinion.

Hard work is accepting that people may look, act, or believe in something different than you and having the empathy to work together to make humanity better.

Hard work is not about gloating.

Hard work is not easy.

Hard work comes from learning from failure.

Hard work is taking risks.

Hard work is having aspirations.

Hard work starts with you.

Hard work can change lives.

Just Wanted to Say Thanks

Mr. Feeny

There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think of how grateful I am for things in my life. I know it can be tough to appreciate things when life isn’t going the way you want, but it definitely helps to take a step back and reflect. I recently tweeted my 5 ways to living a happier life:

  1. Be grateful
  2. Challenge yourself
  3. Laugh
  4. Stop comparing yourself to others
  5. Respect/help others

With Thanksgiving coming up, it is a time to look back on your past year or your entire life to appreciate the small and large things in your life. There’s always something. Here are things I am grateful for over the last year:

Life. I am grateful to be able to breathe and enjoy life.

My wife. Honestly she is one of the hardest working people I know and she goes the extra mile to make sure I am happy in life. She pushes me to be a better person and supports most of my decisions. After being apart for 8 years, I appreciate everyday I come home to her.

Family. I am thankful to be living closer to my family now so I can be a part of my nieces lives as they grow up and have my family’s support or support them if needed. Whether a family member is still here on Earth or have gone, every member of my immediate and extended family has had a genuine impact on my life.

My brother, Brad Frost. Without him I probably would be working some shitty job that I didn’t enjoy. Thankful to be able to work with him and enjoy it, whether it is building websites, design systems, or workbenches.

Friends. You guys inspire me everyday, whether you are getting your PhD or successfully trudge your way through a rough patch in your life. Keep the positive attitude and always do the right thing.

Travel. I am grateful to have visited some amazing places over the past year. I took a road trip with my wife from LA to Seattle in 8 days, visiting a bunch of breathtaking national parks along the way. I got to go to the Outer Banks with my family. Seeing the world makes you a better person.

Work that I enjoy. I moved to Pittsburgh 3 days before my wedding 2 summers ago, scared shitless that I wouldn’t find a good job. It has been quite the transition from meteorology to web design, but I have enjoyed every minute of it. It’s pretty awesome to say you’ve built a website with a client in the center of Times Square and that you’ve helped build a design system for one of the largest companies in the world after such a short time in the field.

Basic needs. I have an apartment, food, clothes, and a mode of transportation. Some people aren’t so lucky. After getting back from San Francisco recently, it was sad seeing how many people don’t have these basic things.

Education. You never stop learning. I am thankful to have gone to college for a subject I loved. I am thankful for the books I have read that have helped me transition from meteorology to web design.

Failure. Weird to be thankful for it, but failing in life has allowed me to become a harder working individual.

Open mind. I am happy that I am laid back and respect someone for who they are as long as they respect me. With the recent escalation of hate, I am happy to be raised in a manner where race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and disability do not make a person any less important.

Ability to listen well. I suck at talking. I mumble and take a while to spit out a story. But I am a good listener. If you try to teach me something, I will likely listen hard. If you have an opinion different than mine I’ll listen. If you are struggling with something, I’ll listen and try to help.

To these web people who have taught me a lot about web and life this year:

  • Dan Mall – Friend, coworker, and smart dude. Honestly privileged to have worked with you and hope to continue to work with you. Thanks for putting up with me.
  • Josh Clark – Friend, coworker, and smart dude. Privileged to have worked with you and hope to continue to work with you. Thanks for putting up with me.
  • Matt D. Smith – Friend, coworker, another smart dude. Privileged to have worked with you and hope to work with you again. Thanks for working with me.
  • Dave Olsen – Friend and collaborator on Pattern Lab 2 (PL PHP guy). One of the nicest guys who seems to enjoy hiking as much as I do. Thanks for being a good and helpful dude.
  • Brian Muenzenmeyer – Friend and collaborator on Pattern Lab 2 (PL Node.js guy). Super nice and bright guy. Just don’t ask him where he’s from. Thanks for your help and being a cool guy.
  • To all authors of books/articles I have read about the web, thank you for sharing your knowledge.
  • To all speakers at conferences I have gone to, thank you for your web and life lessons. I learned a lot from you. I have written about those speakers here at Web Design Day and An Event Apart San Francisco.

My Thoughts on The Weather Channel/Verizon FiOS TV Dispute and Meteorology in General

The Weather Channel dropped by yet another television provider? That’s right. Within the past 2 years The Weather Channel (TWC) has been dropped by DirecTV and now Verizon FiOS. And once again, another company will try to take this opportunity to make a name for itself. The AccuWeather channel will try its luck under the Verizon FiOS cable provider just as Weather Nation did under DirecTV in 2013. Weather Nation’s inexperience did not work out and eventually DirecTV and TWC came to an agreement in April of 2014. TWC was back on the air.

Why is this not a surprise?

1.  Ever since computers and the smart phone, television has been put on the back burner of media.

  • Apps and mobile web have become some of the primary sources of weather information
  • Add Twitter and Facebook to that and it includes even more sources of information.

2.  Comcast owns NBC who owns The Weather Channel

  • Verizon and Comcast are competitors
  • NBC bought out The Weather Channel in 2008
  • Comcast bought most of NBC Universal in 2011 and then all of NBC Universal in 2013

3.  24 Hour news stations (or close to 24 hour news) on 1 subject have not fared well

  • TWC has tried to incorporate regular news, shopping and travel ideas, etc. into their programming. There’s one problem. You already have CNN, HLN, MSNBC, etc. to take care of that
  • The perfect example is SportsCenter on ESPN. 10-20 years ago, you would have almost 100% highlights. Now they involve stories about Lebron James biking to home games or Peyton Manning’s worth to the Broncos 6 months before the NFL season. It is easier to look a score up on your phone today.

What does this mean for meteorologists in general?

Although the impact on meteorologists as a whole is small, it does represent where the field of meteorology is going. No longer are the faces of Marshall Seese and Heather Tesch the faces of weather. The faces of weather seem to be apps, mobile websites, and Twitter/Facebook anymore (with the exception of Jim Cantore and his thundersnow love). It is definitely a reality check for those in TV meteorology and the field of meteorology in general.

I gave a talk to students in 2013 at the American Meteorological Society in Austin, Texas about being a young professional in the field. It scared me to see hundreds of faces looking up at me for advice when I knew that the field of meteorology was shrinking. Energy companies have been laying off some of their meteorologists because it is cheaper to go through a company that sells similar products for thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars less. TV meteorologists are asked to be regular news reporters as well because it is cheaper for companies. The government has cut the budget so far down that the National Weather Service has been understaffed for quite some time now. When it comes down to it, technology is helping, but hurting, the meteorology field.

Is the meteorology field dying? No, but it is shrinking. This is a perfect sign of that weather models have become much better levels of guidance and technology improved to incredible levels. I go back to my freshman year of college to where paper maps were put on a clipboard to my senior year where the maps were all digital on an array of monitors on the wall. This is the direction that the field is going, and it is not going to slow down anytime soon. The best thing to do is to accept that and try to keep up with it. Marketing a weather product is not easy. I have said, “Selling a weather product is like selling a piece of paper for hundreds or thousands of dollars to a client who does not want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars.” It is very difficult and in this case, Verizon does not find the product essential enough to keep TWC on their cable lineup.



There is not a need for The Weather Channel as much as there was even 10 years ago. What will subscribers of Verizon FiOS do? Look at their TWC app on their phone…or use WeatherBug… or AccuWeather…or Wunderground, etc. There are so many sources to get information that a 24 hour TV meteorology channel is basically obsolete. This is a primary example of how the weather field is changing and growing smaller while becoming saturated. We live in an age where people want their weather information now. Not after potential travel destinations…not after “Fat Guys in the Woods”…but right now. If they will not get that from your company, then they will find it somewhere else. The best thing to do is continue to grow with the field, and if that means the eventual shutdown of The Weather Channel on television, then so be it.

Types of Forecast “Meteorologists”

After hearing about the DC region getting “feet of snow” and 30″ of snow this upcoming weekend by the public more than 7 days out, I get frustrated at how hyped storms are that far out. Models have changed significantly since then, and the DC Region looks less likely to have a big snow event. Therefor, I decided to write a blog post about the types of forecast meteorologists. Meteorologists can be like most DC drivers. There are very aggressive ones who like to drive in the fast lane (in the DC area this could be the right or left lane) weaving in and out of traffic. Then there is the oblivious driver, poking his way along as he almost comes to a complete stop at a speed camera because, heaven forbid, you go faster than 10 mph below the speed limit there. You have the same situation with meteorologists. Some go all in with their chips and some bet the minimum. Among these are other categories as well. Many meteorologists fit into multiple categories. Here are the types of forecast “meteorologists” (the term meteorologist used loosely):


  • Words like polar vortex, frigid twister, bombogenesis, etc. are used to threaten
  • Hype is the main goal as web hits/ratings matter most
  • All model guidance points to 1-3″ of snow, you go with 4-8″ banking that the storm overperforms so they can say, “we were right.”
  • Usually tend to spend less time verifying the forecast and more time moving on to the next storm
  • Show model runs 5+ days out to keep viewer’s attention even though the meteorologist may understand that there is large uncertainty
  • Gains attention in the short term, but can skew audience’s view in a similar situation down the road. Hurricane Irene and Sandy perfect example. Irene was hyped so much that there was skepticism with strength/track of Sandy.
  • Found in 24 hour news media, national media, and social media because they have to copy Fox News since somehow they are at the top of the Nielsen Ratings all of the time

“Safety First” Meteorologists:

  • Usually agrees with model output
  • Model guidance shows 1-3″ of snow but temperatures will be well below freezing, pointing to higher totals, You go with the 1-3″ instead
  • Waits until the day before the event to make sure models match up exactly before making a general forecast
  • Tends to either overthink situations or not think of certain catalysts that could change the forecast in situations
  • Good if system underperforms, but underforecasting snow/severe event could lead to forecasts being taken lightly. Trust could be lost with audience.
  • Usually found in amateur meteorologists, meteorologists interested in every model run, and weather geeks who do not know much about meteorology

Modelogist” or “Meteo-model-gist”

  • Similar to sensationalist
  • Interested in every model run, including 6z and 18z GFS
  • Finds the model with the most snowfall or most severe storm threat and posts it online or broadcasts it without explanation of risks and confidence. Canadian model and Brazilian meteogram included.
  • Find the model map with the brightest/most threatening color scheme for effect
  • Viewed by most people
  • Trust could be lost quickly with audience if event does not pan out
  • Believe that big snow storm 7+ days out will happen because the Euro has a big coastal storm 180 hours out.
  • Amateur meteorologists, weather geeks who do not know much about meteorology, some sensationalists, and mets/weather enthusiasts who want to get noticed

Climate Change Meteorologist

  • Does not pay much attention to the details of the forecast. Focuses mainly on the aftermath of the impact the storm has on the region
  • Focuses on the global scale more than national or region scale
  • Relates each weather event to climate change.
  • Hurricane Sandy, “polar vortex,” and Super Typhoon Haiyan are overused to prove that global warming/cooling is occurring
  • Some forecast meteorologists who have a strong passion for climate change, politicians who think they know everything about weather/climate, Bill Nye

Overall, there needs to be a medium between the aggressive and complaisant meteorologist. What does this entail?

  • Realistic forecasts that use the knowledge from college/experience to modify what models have for forecast
  • Clarity in the way we present this information so people are intrigued and understand the risks and confidence in the forecast.
  • Try not to post model images. If you have to, explain risks and confidence, too.
  • Keeping the viewer/reader entertained without hyping a situation that has a lot of uncertainty and risk. Keep it fun and interesting (Probably the hardest thing to do)
  • Avoid using meteorological terms that the general public does not understand. Polar vortex was used and it became skewed/misused in the media.
  • Patience. Although your forecast might be the best, it might not get the most views right away. After time, people with trust your forecasts
  • Climate change is a different animal than weather forecasting. A handful of events covered heavily by the media does not need to be analyzed to see how it affects the climate. There are many other factors that contribute to climate change

Most forecast meteorologists’ goal is to keep people safe. Realistic forecasts and clarity in your presentation to the public in an interesting manner is the best way to go about it. Sensationalism will get people talking in the short term, but viewership and trust may decline with the audience. Happy forecasting!

Because Hurricane Ditka Is The Only Storm To Watch Out For

As most know, a severe outbreak tore through the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic yesterday as 83 tornado reports, 554 wind reports, and 42 hail reports occurred from Iowa all the way to New Jersey. The worst hit were Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky, with Illinois taking a hit from an EF-4 tornado in Washington. At least 6 people have been confirmed dead, which is 6 too many if you are a meteorologist like myself. My thoughts and prayers are with these people, as I cannot imagine walking out of my basement or closet and seeing my belongings and entire home strewn about like Legos in a make-believe world.

I am writing this to explain the severity of this situation and focus on the inaction taken by the NFL during the Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens game at Soldier Field. The EF-4 tornado in Washington, IL had already occurred before the game and the same intense line of storms was heading northeast towards the Chicago urban sprawl. The NFL continued on with the coverage, as more than 60,000 fans sat in the almost 90 year old stadium. The game began as scheduled and after a half hour of play, the fans were cleared from their seats and hunkered down in the concourse areas of the stadium, hoping and praying that they wouldn’t get hit by horrendous weather. Luckily, the tornado never hit, but 60 miles to the southwest of Soldier Field in Coal City, IL, a tornado developed and damage occurred, and the NFL dodged a bullet. The fans packed in the concourses could breathe a sigh of relief.

This should have never happened. The fact that the game began at the scheduled time put tens of thousands of people’s lives at risk or what…a few dollars in CBS’s and the NFL’s pockets? Below is the excuse given in a USA Today article by NFL spokesman Michael Signora:

“Weather is unpredictable and there was a chance that the game could proceed without a delay. When lightning dictated that a stoppage was necessary, the procedures for such an occurrence (below) were followed.”

Is weather totally unpredictable?

  • If it was, I wouldn’t have a job. It is the details of weather that can be unpredictable.
  • It was the details that killed respected meteorologist/chaser Tim Samaras and his colleagues in the El Reno tornado this past spring. It was the details that threw the vehicle of Weather Channel’s Mike Bettes into a field during that same event.
  • A severe event was predicted well in advance. Just look at the Storm Prediction Center’s forecast for Sunday from 3:30 am EST Friday morning:

…and from 2:59 am EST Saturday morning:

..and from Saturday afternoon at 12:32 pm:

and Sunday morning at 12:52 am EST:

And what preliminarily happened laid over Sunday’s forecast:

  • I’d say weather is predictable.
  • Even well before the game, I was on Twitter and plenty of meteorologists were upset and concerned as to why the game was still on schedule.
  • If in fact weather is so unpredictable according to you, then wouldn’t that statement would be more of a reason to delay/reschedule the game?

Looking at the statement:

“When lightning dictated that a stoppage was necessary, the procedures for such an occurrence (below) were followed.” 

  • Lightning does not always dictate the severity of a storm. There really was not a lot of lightning with these storms, but yet there were destructive winds.

I understand that being in a large stadium is better than being stranded in your small car that could become a projectile. Who is to say that other projectiles couldn’t be thrown around in the stadium with the funneling of the wind inside of the corridors, though? Yes, a large stadium is a better option than standing under an overpass on a highway (overpass can collapse onto you, so never do that), but not by much as a nearly 90 year old field probably has weak areas in the structure.

One of the only positive things that came out of this is that the storm stayed south of Soldier Field and downtown Chicago. The other is that Bears fans from the suburbs hit by tornadoes may have been at the game and, thus, were safe from the worst.

Overall, this game should have been delayed at least a day in advance. There was plenty of time to reschedule. Technology in meteorology has progressed enough in the past decade to tell the general time frame that the line of storms would come through.

Weather can be predicted in advance and lightning does not always tell the full story Mr. Signora. The NFL averted danger and can feel humble about it as they go to the bank, but this could have easily gone the other way. The other sad part about this story is that residents of Illinois were upset that severe weather coverage was on instead of the game. I hope lessons were learned. May God bless the folks affected by these storms and help them pick their lives back up soon.

Politics and Government: The Honest To God Truth

One of the many “do not discuss” topics of conversation around the Thanksgiving table is politics. You want the truth?

Politics. Many of us want to understand them, but we don’t. Many of us act like we don’t need them, but we do.  Many of us complain about them, but we don’t do anything about them…

…and you thought I was going to talk trash on Democrats and Republicans. That is all.

Happy Weekend!

Ode to All Meteorologists

  • Are you on TV?!
  • Do you work for The Weather Channel?
  • Must be nice. It’s the only job you can be wrong  (insert %)  and still be employed
  • What did you study in college to do that?
  • Is it going to (insert weather)   (insert time) ?
  • Do you chase storms?
  • (Lick finger and point it in the air) 

…or my all-time favorite:

  • That’s pretty cool, how do you like studying space?

I’m sure about every meteorologist can tell you that at least one of these are responses they have received when telling someone what they do for a living. For many of my friends and colleagues, the first response is a good one because they are actually on TV. Plenty of others are meteorologists, though, but what do they do?

I can tell you one thing, the life of a meteorologist for most, if not all, is not like this:


or this:


How did we become meteorologists?

We got a degree in meteorology of course. As lovely as it sounds to have most classes in front of a green screen and look at clouds, this is not what our classes were like. Our first two years paralleled those of an engineering student, taking 4 semesters of calculus, at least two semesters of physics, dynamics, and thermodynamics before turning more towards a weather focus. If you hated math, you were warned that a meteorology major was not right for you.

What do we do if we’re not on TV?

We wait for our big call from Jim Cantore at The Weather Channel, right? Wrong.

In the operational meteorological field (what I am in), this is some of what we do:

  •  Forecast for energy companies so they can put the right load amount in for electricity so your power doesn’t go out on a 103 degree day or on a -40 degree day.
  • Change oil/natural gas prices in the stock market by forecasting a hurricane to hit the production areas in the Gulf of Mexico or a strong cold shot pushing into the U.S. from Canada
  • Forecast for shipping companies, whether they are sending parcels through UPS or liquified natural gas
  • Forecast for renewables like wind and solar
  • Forecast for the water supply out west, because clean water is much more scarce in that region
  •  Forecast for agriculture companies, because Mars Chocolates needs to know how cocoa crops are going to do this year and farmers/traders need to know about corn planting/harvesting
  • Forecast for aviation.
  • Forecast for sporting events, ski lodges, and other recreation
  • Forecast for much, if not all, of the world

Outside of television and operational meteorology (and not in my areas of expertise) there is research, climatology, policy, teaching, modeling, programming, etc. All of these work together as one in the weather enterprise. There’s a lot that meteorologists do to affect your everyday life than you think.

Do you work good hours?

Not usually. A 9-5 job in the meteorology field is not typical. My day starts at 2am when the deer and foxes on the sides of the road wake me up. This is a promotion from the 10pm (vampire) shift I used to work. Most operational meteorologists I know start before 7am if they’re not working overnights. Other operational meteorologists rotate shifts, a number of weeks on the midnight shift before switching to days for a number of weeks. TV meteorologists will wake up around 2am as well, or in the afternoon depending on the shift they work on. If you’re a professor or in research, you probably have a more normal schedule, but you’ve gone to school for 6+ years so you have truly earned it. On top of the abnormal hours, you usually work some weekends and holidays. Merry Christmas!

So you make a lot of money right since you work unusual hours?

Overall, most meteorologists don’t make very good money. In most jobs, working overnights gets you more money. In meteorology that is not usually the case. Also, despite what I have heard non-meteorologists say about meteorologists making 6 figures, most make well less than that. Most TV meteorologists probably make the least because of such a large field of people to choose from who want to be “famous.” What I’m trying to say is that we’re not riding in limos to work.

Why are we meteorologists then?

We’re meteorologists for many reasons, including:

  • Everyone needs us
  • We love what we do
  • We love helping people like you in everyday life
  • You may find it nerdy, but we find it fascinating
  • Most jobs you cannot talk about outside of work. After all, who wants to hear about assets and liabilities.
  • We’re a bunch of odd ducks riding in the same boat, and according to Gordon Bombay, “Ducks fly together.”

…and the number 1 reason for being a meteorologist:

  • Global warming (the reason for everything)

So the next time you meet a meteorologist, don’t ask him/her if he/she knows Al Roker or is on TV, ask them about the quasi-geostrophic equation. Hopefully they don’t remember it. If they do, they’re a smart cookie. If they don’t, you’ll have a new knowledge of one of the coolest professions to continue the conversation. To all of the meteorologists I know and don’t know: Thank you for your hard work to help make this world run somewhat smoothly.


Troubled Waters with Super Typhoon Haiyan

As a meteorologist, you delve into the beauty and amazement of weather phenomena, whether it is the fascinating development of lake-effect snow or the furious funnel of an EF-3 tornado. Many, like myself, gazed at the fascinating structure of Super Typhoon Haiyan hours before it made landfall in the Philippines. Through the wonder of the images, the feeling of fear stuck in my gut, realizing that the central Philippines would be devastated in just a matter of time.

One controversy has developed with this storm. Was it right for storm chasers to hunt a catastrophic storm in a foreign country and then leave shortly after?

Jim Edds, James Reynolds, Josh Morgerman are three of these more notable extreme chasers/cameramen. They traveled to the Philippines knowing that a catastrophe could happen and were willing to risk their lives to capture the ferocity of Haiyan. Did they know how strong it would be? Probably not. Typhoons are not rare in the western Pacific and the storm was projected to reach category 4 status early that week. Did they realize that thousands of people’s lives would be taken? Probably not. Was there a net positive effect from being there? Should the have gone? In order to decide this I’ll look at it from both a meteorological standpoint and a human standpoint.


  • Storm chasing has grown immensely in the U.S., and the thrill of seeing a tornado or hurricane is something that you’ll never forget (after all I work with a storm chaser).
  • Many hunt storms to apply their data to research, measuring wind speeds, rainfall, storm surge, etc. for future analysis. Will there be a lot of research from what these guys recorded? Maybe.
  • Financial profit can be made off of videos/pictures/research, and in the world of alow-paying field of work like meteorology, any way to make extra money is tempting.
  • Hurricanes are so large that you generally cannot even see the structure of the storm aside from satellite/aerial images. So why bother?


  • Why would anyone spend thousands of dollars to go to a foreign land that they know little about, just to catch some photos and video footage of a potential destructive storm? From the human standpoint, I think most would not think twice about traveling there.
  • Does a chaser’s presence in the Philippines serve as a positive impact in terms of protecting people, saving lives, etc.? From a large scale perspective: No. Small scale: Potentially.
  • If you saw the terror of the dead lying in streets and on the beaches, looters fishing out stores for food and water, and thousands of hungry and frustrated families. would you stay? Morally, you should probably try and help these people.

Was it right for storm chasers to hunt  a catastrophic storm in a foreign country and then leave shortly after? Probably not. I think that the human aspect of this storm outweighs the meteorological standpoint for this event, but at the same time, there is a bit of a gray area, too. Their findings may help with meteorological research and show many how dangerous storms can be, but was the presence of the chasers needed in the Philippines? No. Did their presence help some people to safety in the hustle and bustle of the storm? Yes. According to chaser, Josh Morgerman, on helping several people, “…we didn’t plan to be helpful or think about it, it was just an instinctual reaction to throw the cameras down and fight like hell through the water to drag them out.” I think with disaster everyone’s human side comes out, and that is a humbling thing to see.

However, to go to a foreign land, get treated with respect by the Filipino people, watch disaster happen, and then get first dibs on a plane out of the region in front of thousands of homeless/hungry/needy people frustrates me. The fact that they’ll make quite a bit of profit from their videos and pictures is sickening, unless all of this money goes to helping the thousands who welcomed these chasers into their homeland.

Everyone has their own opinion on this situation, but I’m sure everyone agrees that the disaster that occurred in the Philippines is devastating. God bless them. That is all