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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17 thoughts on “13 Things Your TV Weather Forecaster Won’t Tell You

  1. 13 of 14 then and it ends, what happened to the 14th slide? Nice to see Reader’s Digest is continuing its tradition of making condensed versions

  2. The weathermen rarely gets paid as much as the Anchorman BUT if the
    weatherman is an actual meteorologist the yes he will be paid more the
    average anchorman gets between 50K and 120K depending on the station a
    weatherman will make 50 to70k but a real meteorologist will rarely make
    less that 87K. Stations used to hire meteorologist but for the most part
    they don’t and thus the Anchorman gets paid the most.  As for who can call themselves a Meteorologist well
    the implication is there are no standards but the US governemtn the US
    military and other nations have defind requirements the best being the
    one by the American Meteorological Society. That said You can call yourself napoleon that does not make you him.

    1. Did you even graduate high school? You really need to learn proper sentence structure, punctuation, etc. before posting.

  3. hello: just being a regular person; I have studied weather for 16 years. especially from jan 19 & 20 1996.with the help of wten & cbs6 in Albany, ny; I consider my self “DR. DEWPOINT! article 8. also article 5, the national weather service & the weather channel for 30 years! also jim cantore of the weather channel. I’ve known for years; that one thing I wANTED TO BE IS A METEROLOGIST; FASCINATING!  TAKE CARE

  4. The partly sunny, etc designations do not actually have scientific definitions. 

    Also, warning vs. watch is something the NWS is always trying to explain to the public. It isn’t a secret. -From a certified meteorologist 

  5. Our weathermen talk about 8 all the time, it’s as standard as the high and low temps.

  6. Weather people have access to special dart boards so they can offer the best answers.
    In addition they have people who call in who tell them whether it’s raining or sunny  in strategic areas.

  7. Whoever wrote this article has never been in tv news and hasn’t a clue.  Weathermen who wear makeup is a big secret?  No way.  Everyone on tv wears makeup. Highest paid employee?  Not on your life–its the main anchormen and women who get the big bucks. 
    Altogether another Readers Digest rip-off article.

  8. Whoever wrote this article has never been in tv news and hasn’t a clue.  Weathermen who wear makeup is a big secret?  No way.  Everyone on tv wears makeup. Highest paid employee?  Not on your life–its the main anchormen and women who get the big bucks. 
    Altogether another Readers Digest rip-off article.

  9. The best analogy for predicting thunderstorm location is to imagine a pot of water being heated on the stove.  Now predict from where the first bubble will rise.  That’s pretty much it.

  10. The best analogy for predicting thunderstorm location is to imagine a pot of water being heated on the stove.  Now predict from where the first bubble will rise.  That’s pretty much it.

  11. The photo in #5 is misleading.  According to FLASH:
    A survey commissioned by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH®)
    and conducted online by Harris Interactive during the period of January
    25-27, 2012 found that nearly seven out of 10 homeowners still think
    that windows and glass doors should be taped in preparation for a
    hurricane. Masking tape, duct tape, window film and specially marketed
    “hurricane tape” are insufficient and potentially dangerous
    substitutions for tested and approved hurricane shutters,
    impact-resistant windows or properly installed temporary, emergency
    plywood shutters. This is why FLASH is determined to bust the dangerous
    window taping myth and is encouraging Americans to Go Tapeless this hurricane season…

    1. I would think Arizona or New Mexico… or even Nevada… would be easier. If you lived in Texas you would know there can be some pretty diverse weather patterns in different areas of the state. Look at the Panhandle (Amarillo) in winter vs. South Padre Island. Or what about the hurricane season between Corpus Christi and Dallas. And then there’s El Paso vs. Brownsville in just about any season. Shall I go on?

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