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.

By Michelle Crouch
Also in Reader's Digest Magazine July 2012
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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.

    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.

     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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Try to get your weather from someone certified by the American Meteorological Society—it just takes a quick Google search.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    You can get struck by lightning due to metal plumbing, which conducts electricity.

    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.

    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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    Your Comments

    • userRecovery

      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

    • Bill in Orleans (ON)

      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.

      • Bob the Builder

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

    • http://twitter.com/liweatherman LI Weather

      I….uh…the um…but…and the…..uh….NO.

      This was actually published?

    • Dzemanek

      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