melissa mack

With the weather being all completely screwed up and only getting more and more screwed up, About the Weather is going to chat with those who are the face of weather: Meteorologists. We’re going to call it: About the Weather. First up: Melissa Mack of WBZ.

People might be like “ah what does she know?”, when in fact you have done a considerable amount of science. Your really a scientist.

We are scientists that have to put things in layman’s terms because on TV we are talking to the general audience.

It is very different. Obviously when you are behind the scenes and working with other meteorologists or at the national weather service you can talk more of the weather lingo. But, you can’t do that on TV so you have to take it down to elementary level.

Right. Like barometers. I don’t know if the general public will ever understand what a barometer does.
People don’t really care on the map. You may think they care and I want to think they care, but, what I have realized is that what people care about especially is what’s going to happen when I walk out the door, what’s it going to be like this afternoon, and what’s it going to be like tonight. Over all I think the seven day forecast people look at it, but I don’t think people remember any of that. Half the time I don’t. They really just need to know what’s going on on a daily basis. Which is why they tune in everyday.

Or they are traveling. The weekend is very important to people. I always watch the seven day to see what the weekend is going to be like.
Which you know, changes, often.

Yeah. Does it change so that when you have to go back on at noon you adjust your forecast between then and now?
I may, I do sometimes it just depends. I do have a new model. New models come out around Twelve Z Zulu time which is about eight o’clock here, 8 am.

I want to know a little bite about how you got into it. To choose meteorology I’m wondering if there was a moment when you were like watching someone on TV or were you out watch the weather or watching sky. Did you have a eureka moment when you decided you wanted to be a meteorologist?
I would say, my parents owned a self serve car wash. Which again, much of what they did the weather really affected how the car wash business was going to be. So, my dad had the weather channel on all the time. I would say about around eight to ten years old, somewhere in that time period I noticed and my mom said I wouldn’t shut off the weather channel. That I would hum the tunes. Now, I don’t really quite remember this. My brother wanted to basically hit me. We would fight all of the time over the TV in the kitchen. He would want to have cartoons on or something else and I wanted to have the weather channel on. So, that was one of them. Also:

Snow is what really made me passionate about weather and snow days. I mean what kid doesn’t want to have off school?

I know I do. I would look ahead at the weather channel. I would look and be like, oh my gosh snow on Sunday night would be great. Then it would change and I would be like why is it changing. We had lake effect snow. So, if you lived to the east of lake Ire a lot of times we would get hammered. Which is where I am from. I would always be like come on, come on, come on. So, that was one of the other things that kind of drove me into weather and made me really watch it closely. Those are the two main things. My dad still thinks he can out forecast me, which is really funny. He’ll always pick on me and tell me I can’t get my job right. He does this 50/50 thing. How do you get paid for getting it right half the time? By the way people need to think of a new joke. That joke is so old!

Alright, we will get that out there, no more 50/50 jokes. Well, he must just have that elbow that acts up if it’s going to rain. One of those farmers almanac types. Instinctual things.

My dad is my worst and hardest critic.

So, obviously this summer we have a lot of turbulent weather. You know we had tornadoes and the hurricane blew through. We didn’t have extremes of heat which was nice. But, In Wichita, which is where my family is. They had twenty straight days of hundred plus degree temperatures.
Texas was the worst. I mean, everyday I felt like Dallas Texas was hundred plus degrees. I believe it was close to one hundred days straight or something of that sort of hot days. So of course there was extreme drought there. A lot of evaporation going on with that heat. It was very dangerous too and deadly.

It was so extreme that my mother, who would never do anything like this, actually went and bought a hybrid car. She was actually worried about her gas guzzling car. I kind of looked at that as well maybe people are starting to understand, to some degree, climate change. Obviously, you study the weather. So, do meteorologists talk about that? Do you talk about climate change?
We do, there are conferences and things. Although, I have to say. I explain it to people as, a scientist is general terminology for a career or a person. Then you have the specialties. So you’ve got meteorology, which is more of the day to day forecasting. Then you have climatology. It’s like a doctor. There is a doctor and then there is a doctor that is a heart surgeon. Then there is a doctor who is an optomologist and a doctor who is a dentist. So, you know it’s not my specialty. That’s one thing that I think that lot of people over look. We are good at forecasting. I did have one climatology class, one or two in school and that was it.

What I do is a lot of research based on climatologist. I look up a lot, I try to read books, articles and things of that sort. It’s something to definitely discuss.

What’s the dream for you, be on the biggest network?
I guess networks are always something to strive to be at the top. Any career your in your should always strive to be at the absolute top. It doesn’t mean you necessarily want to be there. But, you have to be there to feel successful.

Any other advice for up and coming meteorologists?

I just think if you are passionate about it don’t let anybody steer you in the wrong direction. You are going to hear a lot of naysayers. Who say don’t do it that business is bad, this and that. I think if you are passionate and when you really believe in it you will actually find a balance in life and will have it all. If that’s what you want, but, you have to want it. And it’s not easy but it’s worth it if you love it.


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