The wind was blowing, and I could hear the rain falling on our roof. It was September 2003 and Hurricane Isabel was fast approaching. Normally, during a bad storm, I could be found hiding in our basement, but my previous fear had turned into fascination.
A few days before Isabel made landfall, I felt anxious after hearing the weather reports. My mom suggested I learn more about them to help calm my fears. I did my own research while waiting to hear the latest storm updates on the news. The more I learned, the more my interest grew. That was the moment I decided to pursue a career in weather.
Not surprisingly, many meteorologists have similar stories and knew they wanted to pursue this profession from a young age.
This year, Becky DePodwin, a meteorologist at AccuWeather, tweeted about the intention behind her decision to be a meteorologist and asked her colleagues about how they came to the career. Fellow meteorologists pitched in and shared their stories:
Meghan Klee: In HS [high school], friends (& teachers!) would laugh when I said I wanted to be a meteorologist. I pursued my dream & now I’ll never work a day in my life bc [because] I do what I love. Now I get messages from old friends saying they’re impressed that I made it happen for myself. That’s success!
Kevin Huyck: Made my first tornado “forecast” and “damage survey” in the 3rd grade. That wasn’t what other kids were doing.
Sarah Brooke Lyon: My desire to study meteorology goes back to when I was 5 years old. A little event occurred on April 3-4, 1974 that forever left me wanting to learn more about tornadoes!
Mike Lani: Hurricane Belle when I was 5 and the Blizzard of ’78 when I was 6 did it for me!
Matt Lanza: Age 3 triggered it (Hurricane Gloria). I gave kindergarten weather reports . . . there was never a doubt about what career path I was going toward.
Roger Edwards: No memory of anything *but* meteorology as career goal! As soon as I could crawl, as an infant, I was at the screen door watching thunderstorms every possible opportunity. Tornado obsession since age 3 or earlier.
And recently, the American Meteorological Society’s Board for Early Career Professionals asked followers to share an experience or moment that confirmed they were in the right field:
Lou Bowers: Hurricane Gloria at age 6 started me off, growing up along the NJ coast got me to love all things weather, wind, and ocean. Now I’m building wind farms both on and offshore.
Eric Weglarz: Hurricane Sandy’s impacts confirmed I was on the right path. Freshman year of college, I had a chance to volunteer with cleanup in Misquamicut, RI. Seeing the prolific amount of damage along the coast and people dazed by it will never leave my mind!
Weather affects everyone, even children. It is captivating to watch a weather event unfold. It can bring boredom on a rainy day or elation during a snowstorm. A severe storm can turn a community upside down, and a beautiful day can instantly make you happier.
If you ask any meteorologists, they have probably been fascinated with the weather for a long time. Meteorology is a challenging, ever-growing and very special field. The curiosity that interested meteorologists at a young age developed into passion for our careers.
The author, Samantha Durbin, is a Capital Weather Gang intern who recently completed a master’s degree in meteorology.