13 Things Your TV Weather Forecaster Won’t Tell You

Here's a prediction: You'll get more accurate insight from your five-day forecast with these secrets from local weather reporters.

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1. In many cases, the meteorologist is the highest-paid person on the broadcast, because weather is one of the top reasons why people watch local news.

1. In many cases, the meteorologist is the highest-paid person on the broadcast, because weather is one of the top reasons why people watch local news.
That's probably why the stations with the best weather people usually have the best ratings.

2. Looks do matter when it comes to TV weather.

2. Looks do matter when it comes to TV weather.
 I've been told to trim my eyebrows and wear more makeup. (Yes, men and women both wear makeup on TV—lots of it!)

3. Bad weather is good for ratings. Really good.

3. Bad weather is good for ratings. Really good.
When there's a big storm coming, some TV stations will get three or four times as many people watching as normal. Our news directors love it.

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4. The hurricane season forecasts that come out every year predicting the year's storm activity are almost always wrong.

4. The hurricane season forecasts that come out every year predicting the year's storm activity are almost always wrong.
Even I was surprised when I realized how inaccurate they are.

5. Once you're under a severe weather "warning," assume it's going to happen.

5. Once you're under a severe weather "warning," assume it's going to happen.
Unlike a "watch," a National Weather Service warning means the dangerous weather likely already exists, and you should take action immediately.

6. There's no legal definition of a meteorologist, so anybody can call him- or herself one and get away with it.

6. There's no legal definition of a meteorologist, so anybody can call him- or herself one and get away with it.
Try to get your weather from someone certified by the American Meteorological Society—it just takes a quick Google search.

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7. We're not very good at predicting summer showers and thunderstorms, because they're so small.

7. We're not very good at predicting summer showers and thunderstorms, because they're so small.
It can be sunny all day a mile away from you, but you get the rain.

8. The dew point—not the relative humidity—is the best measure of how humid it feels outside.

8. The dew point—not the relative humidity—is the best measure of how humid it feels outside.
When it’s raining, for example, you can have 100 percent humidity, but it may not feel sticky. Yet anytime the dew point is over 65 degrees, it will feel humid. And if it’s at 75, that means it’s very wet out there.

9. Summer forecasting is a breeze compared with winter reporting.

9. Summer forecasting is a breeze compared with winter reporting.
The toughest question: Is it going to snow? Unlike warm weather predictions, if I’m off by one degree in the winter, it can mean the difference between rain, snow, and sleet.

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10. Partly sunny is actually more gray than partly cloudy.

10. Partly sunny is actually more gray than partly cloudy.
Here's the scale from least to most sunny: cloudy, mostly cloudy or partly sunny, partly cloudy or mostly sunny, and then sunny or clear

11. Don't take a shower during a thunderstorm.

11. Don't take a shower during a thunderstorm.
You can get struck by lightning due to metal plumbing, which conducts electricity.

12. Our long-range forecasts aren't very accurate.

12. Our long-range forecasts aren't very accurate.
We're quite good at one to three days out and decent five to seven days out.

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13. Watch out for phrases like "Shocking forecasts to come" before commercial breaks

13. Watch out for phrases like "Shocking forecasts to come" before commercial breaks
We use the hype to get your attention.

Sources: Joe Murgo, chief meteorologist for WTAJ-TV in Altoona, Pa.; Chuck Gaidica, a meteorologist in Detroit, Mich.; David Bernard, chief meteorologist at CBS Miami/Fort Lauderdale; Chris Maier, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service; AJ Jain, an energy meteorologist who blogs about the weather industry at www.freshaj.com; and weathermen in Michigan and Los Angeles.

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