Weather affects us all, whether we like it or not...
For the past few months, I've talked about different weather phenomenon and why they occur but this month we're going to talk about the men and women who study and teach us about these events....the meteorologists! I was lucky enough to sit down with Jonathan Cubit, Weekend Meteorologist at Verizon Fios 1 News and learn about what inspired him to become a TV weather personality. If you're interesting in becoming an amateur meteorologist or would like to study meteorology in the future, he gives some tips, tricks and tools that you can use to help you further your career!
Tell us a little bit about yourself...
My name is Jonathan Cubit (April 11, 1989). I was born and raised in New York and earned my degree in Atmospheric Science at the University of Albany. I am currently working as a Weekend On Air Meteorologist at Verizon Fios 1 News. My goal is to become a full time Meteorologist for the station, if not another. What got me into the field of meteorology was my fascination and love for physical weather. Thunderstorms and blizzards were my favorite natural disasters or weather storms. Hurricanes were another big interest since I was a kid, when it came to weather.
When did you know you wanted to be a meteorologist? What inspired you to become one?
I knew I wanted to study meteorology in my early teens, the weather was always fascinating to me. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I took my first Meteorology course. That was when I knew for sure it’s what I wanted to pursue. Now I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be on tv until my junior year of college.
What was the schooling like to become a meteorologist?
The schooling for it was a lot of math and science. Physics, chemistry and calculus. Physics was probably my most favorite, while chemistry was my least. Also my weather classes, which I loved. Other classes were Natural disasters, Weather Forecasting, Climatology-- I loved and learned a lot. Our school also offered an on air club called ATV (Albany Student Television). Me and a few others were actually on air delivering weather forecasts throughout the week. That’s when I knew I wanted to be an On-Air meteorologist.
Why is it so difficult to make a forecast certain? How much data do you look at when developing a weather forecast?
After a certain amount of days the accuracy of weather forecasts drop significantly. Typically 3 day outlooks are safe. Afterward, with things changing so quickly and sometimes dramatically, radars and models can give one forecast one day and two days later be completely different because of maybe a spike up or down in temps or maybe a pickup in winds. So, for example, with our most recent storm this past January we could have gotten 6-8” of snow or what we actually got, which was nothing after rain swept through. The reason being was the change in jet stream trending more north opening things up for warmer air from the south. Weather changes and it’s our job to stay on top of it.
How far ahead can you track the weather? Are these month long forecasts really accurate?
We can track it for a little while out to about a month or so out, but it’s really not that accurate. It’s mostly climatological, weather has been a certain way that day over the last decade so to say.
What tools do you use to track the weather?
Every meteorologist has their own favorite websites to look up info. Most of those I work with, as well as me, use Tropicaltidbits.com, NOAA.gov, and one of my favorites, spaghettimodels.com. Here you find a bunch of different weather models and graphics to create a weather story.
What is your favorite type of weather?
My favorite type of weather would probably be severe. Like hurricanes, blizzards and thunderstorms. I wanted to storm chase at one point!
Can you explain what a bombogenesis is? And why have we only heard about it in the last few years with major snowstorms?
A bombogenisis is just a system that intensifies very rapidly. Numerically any storm system that drops 24mb in 24 hrs would classify that storm system as a bombogenisis. It’s safe to say you’d hear that term more now with much stronger storms, rapidly growing and changing systems triggered by global warming.
What is it like to work on TV? Did you have to adjust or did you always know you wanted to be a meteorologist on TV?
Working on TV is fun! I love the creativity when I have to build my weather graphics and put my weather story together. Nothing is right off the prompter, everything is off the top, just some ad-libing and going on the fly. Things get a little more intense when you have to deal with storm coverage but other than that it’s cool, I love it.
What is your favorite thing about being a meteorologist?
One of my favorite things about meteorology is the change in weather and how it’s always constant. There’s always something going on somewhere.
Do you have any advice for future meteorologists?
Intern, see if you like it no matter what job you take in meteorology. It can put you in or outside your typical 9 to 5 Monday through Friday schedule, like majority of the world. You could be working overnight, could be working midday, holidays and/or weekends. Make connections when and where you can, talk to other meteorologists, maybe even speak to earth science teachers meteorology teachers and professors. Have fun with it but it has to be a passion, it’s not something that’s easy and sometimes it can take up a lot of time.
Careers in Meteorology and Atmospheric Science by Institute for Career Research
Meteorology in the Real World by Gregory Vogt
Meteorology Experiments in Your Own Weather Station by Robert Gardner
Treading on Thin Air: Atmospheric Physics, Forensic Meteorology, and Climate Change: How Weather Shapes Our Everyday Lives by Elizabeth Austin