WILTB October 2017

Ari Sarsalari

Digital On-Camera Meteorologist at
The Weather Channel

What does a meteorologist do?
A meteorologist forecasts the weather and tells people what to expect. Weather affects people’s lives every day, and it’s different every day, so that keeps it fun. I love my job because it’s not easy to communicate to people about how the weather is going to affect them. It’s fun to come up with unique ways of talking to people so they can understand the forecast.

How did you become interested in this work?
I’ve always been very interested in math and science. I was never good at English. I knew I was going to go into a science-related field of work, and I was always interested in the weather. When I was a kid, I used to be scared of thunderstorms. So, when I was in college, I started off in engineering, but after my first year, I was bored of that major, so I studied something I have always been interested in — weather.

What training does it take to be a meteorologist?
There are two routes you can take to become a broadcast meteorologist. Many people go to school for broadcasting and then take weather courses on the side. Or, there are others (like me) who went to school for a bachelor’s degree in meteorology, and ended up as a broadcast meteorologist. I prefer the latter path because you’re forced to be yourself, rather than a broadcaster. Either way, be prepared for A LOT of math and physics.

Have you ever had a scary weather experience? If so, can you share it with our readers?
I’ve chased tornadoes, been in hurricanes, snowstorms, etc., but by far the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced was a few years ago, when lightning hit a tree in the front yard of my house. The entire house flashed orange, and it was the loudest explosion you could imagine. I’m not scared of tornadoes or any kind of severe weather because you can predict those things and you know where they’re going, but lightning terrifies me. it’s completely unpredictable and deadly.

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about the weather?
There’s no such thing as heat lightning! Thunderstorms are always the thing that produces lightning. Whenever you see what someone calls “heat lightning,” it’s usually a thunderstorm that’s far enough away that you can’t hear the thunder. Don’t believe me? Check the radar next time you see “heat lightning.” I guarantee there will be a thunderstorm within 150 miles of you.

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