13 Things Your TV Weatherman 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 from Reader's Digest Magazine | July/August 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

    • Meteorologist

      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 

    • Bob

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

    • Anonymous

      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.

    • Terry

      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.

    • Terry

      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.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Caterina-Fox-Albany/100001277428569 Jason Caterina Fox Albany

      You couldn’t be MORE WRONG right off the top with the meteorologist being the highest paid person in the newscast.

    • Lindaisinkorea

      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.

    • Lindaisinkorea

      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.

      • Bob the Builder

        I predict it will rise from the bottom. Care to dispute?

    • W. Snell

      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…

    • Na

      Being a weatherman in tx is the easiest job on earth

      • Bob the Builder

        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?