Alex Avalos has been busy this summer. Not only has he been building a blog, and active on Twitter, but he’s also doing a summer internship at a local station in Connecticut. I thought it would be interesting to ask him a few questions to get his perspective on what its like to be a broadcast meteorology intern.
Where are you interning this summer, and what’s your normal day like?
I intern at News 8 (WTNH) in New Haven, Connecticut. Each Monday morning, I start my day around 1:30 AM, to get ready for the hour long commute to New Haven in order to start my shift at 4:00 AM. I usually arrive at the station around 3:40 AM each Monday morning, and Meteorologist Gil Simmons (whom I intern for) is not far behind.
When he gets to the station, we debrief on the weather for the current day, have a look at the models, stability indices, verticals data, etc. The only problem with interning during the very early morning shift is the need to get things done as quickly, yet efficiently as possible. Each morning, I will research some other forecasting materials which he will incorporate into his morning show (for example, pollen index, Long Island Sound temperatures, rainfall totals from a storm, etc.), and depending on the hustle to prepare for the morning show, I will plug some of the data into the weather graphics computer for Gil.
Then the time to go live on the air arrives at 4:56 AM. While Gil is live on the air on Good Morning Connecticut, he’ll have me on the lookout for fresh model data usually coming in, should the forecast need any tweaking (occasionally it does). Aside from that, he’ll have me find any other weather information that could be incorporated into the show. Should the forecast need any changes, he will allow me to make the changes on the Weather Central Graphics computer. We end each show the same way we start the morning, with a look at the current data coming in from GFS, NAM, Microcast (a model produced by WTNH), etc.
What has been the biggest thing you’ve learned so far?
Throughout my experience as an intern at WTNH, I have truly discovered that forecasting is treated like religion in the Broadcast Meteorology industry. Twice a week, I will create a forecast for Gil. Basically, this will consist of a day planner (hour-by-hour), an eight day forecast, and a synopsis on the weather features which will influence the weather’s behavior for both inland and coastal Connecticut. This internship has truly taught me some things I hadn’t learned in the classroom about forecasting, of which I feel has really helped me become a better weather forecaster.
I am a staunch believer in the saying “practice makes perfect.” I believe that this experience this summer will help me not only in my career, but also in various forecasting assignments I have undertaken in my time as a student at Lyndon State College. Aside from forecasting, learning the Weather Central Graphics computer system and also learning a new chroma-key wall setup have both positively impacted me over the course of this summer.
What has surprised you or different than you thought it would be?
Having worked the very early morning shift, what has surprised me the most is the fast pace to get things done before the morning show. As soon as he arrives at the station, Gil and I get right to work to prepare for the morning show. He has the last say with what he incorporates into his morning show, but he is always willing to hear my suggestions – often he incorporates some of them into the show! Also having worked prior to the Noon show (which is slower than the 5AM), I’ve been able to fit in some practice runs in front of the chroma-key wall. Overall, this internship is everything I thought it would be. I’m very thankful for this incredible opportunity, being able to see it through the eyes of a Meteorologist as a college student.
What is the hardest part about the job of a broadcast meteorologist? What do you like best?
Without question, most people would probably agree that the most difficult aspect of a job to become acclimated to is the possibility of working the very early morning show. I’ve gotten used to this already. While several people have asked me over the course of the summer how it could be possible for me to overcome such a daunting task, I’ve always told them it has everything to do with the passion, and knowing that this is something I want to be doing the rest of my life. Its enough motivation for me to get used to it and to get used to it as quickly as possible.
Being an up-and-coming broadcast meteorologist, this field definitely has many perks. To me, the best part about a job as a broadcast meteorologist is the fact that you can just be yourself. Of course, there might be some limitations to this, as it could mean the difference between being the favorite employee at the station and being terminated for poor sportsmanship. Regardless, how many people can say they have a job which allows them to just be themselves? This is something I definitely look forward to upon finding my first job, after I gain more incredibly valuable on-camera experience as a student at Lyndon State College’s News 7, that is!