Examining the recent evolution of the TV weathercaster, a front page story in today’s New York Times describes local meteorologists as community heroes that regularly save lives through accurate reporting and severe weather warnings.
In the old days, he used to have to wait for his turn in the newscast, slap a magnetic sun on a map and hope it didn’t rain.
Now he presides over a new $1.7 million radar system and has more real estate on the set than the newscasters have. As that kind of technology offers the ability to predict with great precision how a severe storm will move, the weather forecast has become about saving lives.
The piece attributes the rising stature of the local meteorologist to an increased public interest in (and occurrence of) severe weather as well as advanced technology, including not just Doppler radar systems but also streaming video and social media.
Describing the forecaster as “the egghead of the newsroom,” the article calls ABC 33/40‘s James Spann “the rock star of meteorology” in Alabama for his tireless, multi-platform work this spring when a series of tornadoes ripped through the state.
“If somebody is hurt or killed by severe weather, there isn’t a person among us who doesn’t think, ‘What could I have done differently? What could I have done better?’” Jay Trobec, meteorologist for KELO in Sioux Falls, S.D., and commissioner for professional affairs for the American Meteorological Society, told the Times.