You’re a Meteorologist? What’s the Forecast?

February 4, 2019 By dmoran

It’s a question I get asked often when people find out that I’m a meteorologist. While forecasting is a big part of what I do, it’s not all of it.

Little background on me: I have a BS in Meteorology and a BA in Mathematics from the University of Oklahoma. Currently, I am employed as a meteorologist for DTN. I start my day at 6am looking at model data, highlighting various weather hazards and preparing forecasts. In addition, I also write educational blogs on various meteorological topics. Some of my past blogs can be seen here and here.

In 2017, I earned my Certified Consulting Meteorologist certification from the American Meteorological Society. Since receiving my CCM, I’ve worked on various projects. I’ve developed formulas to do various calculations (that math degree comes in handy!) and I’ve worked on lawsuits involving various weather conditions. Many (not all) of these cases that I’ve worked on have been presented to me as “I had damage on <date> at <place>. Do you think it was caused by the storm?”. I’ll review whatever data is available to me that I deem relevant (radar data, storm reports, etc.) and give an opinion as to what most likely happened. Sometimes, that’s all that’s needed; other times, I’m asked to prepare a report of my findings for insurance claims or legal proceedings. I never know what’s going to come across my desk, and to me, that’s part of the excitement.

Part of having a CCM is staying up to date on the state of the science so I attend AMS conferences and read many scientific papers in my areas of specialization. Most of what I read is about recent advances, but every once in a while, I have to learn well-established principles that I’ve not yet picked up at some point in my education. Case in point: statistics. I took a statistics course in college for both of my degrees, but meteorology has its own statistical measures; as a result, I’ve started learning some statistical meteorology on my own (which plays a role in analyzing the accuracy of forecasts, etc.). I also serve on the Board of Certified Consulting Meteorologists.

While many meteorologists forecast, not all do and some (like me) do other things as well. Many people are surprised at what all meteorologists do; hopefully this provides a brief glimpse into those other things.