National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Why Did I Choose Meteorology


How did we get interested in Meteorology? Well, there are 17 meteorologists in our office. If you asked each one how they got interested, you are sure to get number of curious stories. There are those who were thrilled by the awesome power of mother nature and the unpredictability of weather. There are yet others who were drawn to the science and technology of this ever changing field. And still others who just happened into the science while in college. However there is typically one thing we all seem to have in common. That is our fascination with understanding it and being able to effectively predict it.

Below are a few stories from some of our Meteorologists discussing how they first got interested in the science.



One day when I was around 8 or so, there was a tornado warning issued. I was quickly rushed to the basement, where I anxiously waited with my parents, brother, and beagle. Dad took the beagle to the grass on the other side of the driveway, and I remember being scared because we were supposed to be taking shelter. A short while after they came back in, a tornado moved only a block or two away from my house. Trees were blown down across the lawn, and I watched our trash can get blown down the driveway. I remember in vivid detail that trash can racing away from our house like someone was trying to run away with it. In a matter of seconds, the wind slowed down and it was all over. That time made such an impression on me. Ever since then, weather has fascinated me because it can't be controlled. I knew then that I wanted to be able to study weather, so I could learn how to help and teach others how to stay safe.



My interest in meteorology really was associated with baseball - major league baseball.  My mom raised us kids as Chicago Cubs fans and, of course; we played baseball in the leagues when we were living in Central Illinois.  My mom and dad would take us up to Chicago to see the Cubs play every single summer and during one particular summer I always remember that the game we went to see was postponed to another date due to rain. This was a particularly disturbing event in my life, because it was a big deal to drive up to Chicago to see one of these games.  It took three hours to get up to the north side of Chicago from our hometown and if the opportunity passed us by, we would have to 'wait until next year' to see the Cubs play.

Therefore, you could say meteorology became one of my most interesting topics as a child.  I would always tune into WGN to watch Tom Skilling or Roger Triemstra present the weather forecast during the WGN newscast from that point forward in order to determine the fate of my annual trip to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs play.

Additionally, I grew up in Rantoul, Illinois which was the home of Chanute Air Force Base.  Chanute was a major training base for the Air Force and they taught weather observation and forecasting classes at the base.  I always remember seeing an old fax weather chart from Chanute that was a map of surface observations across the United States in one of my science classes in middle school.  I was enamored with the station model and the frontal depictions on the map.  Strange, but I believe this had an impact on me as well.



My path toward a career in meteorology began when I was five years old. I lived in New Jersey when Hurricane David came up the East Coast. By the time it had reached New Jersey, it had weakened considerably from its peak Category 5 intensity, but it still produced heavy rainfall and strong winds. Our street and basement flooded, and a tree in my friend’s yard was blown down - I was amazed! After that, I began to watch the clouds every day, and tried to figure out if rain was coming by watching their movement. I was frightened by thunder and lightning, but I was also fascinated by them, and wanted to learn more about their causes. I became more interested in meteorology as a career after hearing a meteorologist talk at my school. Science was my favorite subject in school, and I also enjoyed geography and looking at maps, so meteorology seemed a natural fit for me.



I have had a fascination with weather my entire life--in fact, one of my earliest memories is watching thunderstorms with my grandparents. As I grew older, I began to realize that while enthralling, weather could also be destructive. In 2004, the remnants of Hurricane Ivan swept through my hometown of western Pennsylvania, causing widespread flooding. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to study weather and help people become more prepared for future events.