Military Weather Vs. Broadcast Weather

The Differences Between Working For The Military And A News Station

As many of you probably know by now, in addition to working for KDLT as a Meteorologist, I am also a Senior Airmen in Air National Guard where I forecast the weather as well.  Many people ask me the difference between the two and which one I like better.  To start off, I love doing both equally!  Of course, they are two completely different animals when it comes down to the job, but there are also many similarities.

Let’s start off with what I do for each job.  Here at KDLT I forecast the weather on the weekends 2 times a day – that is, unless I fill in for Brandon or Blaise.  During the week I do reporting for KDLT which is unrelated to Meteorology.  Preparing for the shows takes quite some.  I typically come in at 1:30pm when the first show starts at 5pm.  That means it takes about 3 1/2 hours to forecast for our 92 counties – this also includes the time it takes to prepare the show and graphics to be ready to air, as well as updating the weather for radio hits.  Once the shows start at 5pm or 6pm, it’s pretty much smooth sailing.  I present the forecast during the shows, update social media, and update the weather radio hits.  The last show is at 10pm where I present the weather one last time.  After the show, it’s more updating social media and weather radio hits, as well as finishing up anything else that may need to be done to prepare for the next shift.

Now for the military side of things, I typically only work 2 days a month which are normally the first or second weekend of each month.  We call this “drill.”  The purpose of drill is for guard and reserve members to stay fresh and “deployment ready.”  We have to make sure we know what we are doing at all times so that way if we get the call, we are ready to deploy at any moments notice.  We also do annual training every year which is typically 2 weeks out of the year.  During drill, we forecast for pilots and military personnel.  The purpose of the forecasts are so that pilots can plan their missions and so that they can make safe decisions.  The weather can greatly affect missions and military activities.  Not only are lives at risk, but millions of dollars as well; yeah, military equipment and aircraft are quite expensive.  Talk about some serious pressure!  I know what you are probably thinking, “You must be crazy!”  I would have to say that might be a little true, but hey…we all have a little crazy in us!  Preparing for a mission takes a lot of tedious work because aircraft can be fragile, and different aircraft can handle different types of weather elements.  For example, a helicopter can’t handle nearly the amount of winds or turbulence that a typical fixed-wing aircraft can.  We also have to forecast up to the level the aircraft is planning on flying, as well as an additional 5,000-10,000 or so feet high.  So when it comes to forecasting for the military, we have to forecast at all different levels.  A pilot will typically come in and request a briefing and give us a reasonable time that they want the briefing given to them.  The request is tentative – basically a perfect scenario.  Pilots will give us information with the request, such as: the route that they want to take, the level they plan on flying, take off time, landing time, locations that they will stop at, the location that they will refuel at, ect.

As you can see, there is a lot of work that goes into forecasting the weather for a news station, as well as the military.  There are many differences between the two which I have listed below:

                                               

 

MILITARY WEATHER:            

1. Forecast up to thousands of feet into the atmosphere

2. Aviation forecasting

3. Forecast for military  personnel

4. Forecast for military missions and for our home base

5. Military personnel and the base depend on your forecast

6. Training is provided to become a Meteorologist

7. Over a year of training

8. Use the military’s specific weather products to help forecast

9. Present/brief the weather in person

10. Staffing varies but there can be more than 10 Meteorologists

11. Issue watches, warnings, and advisories

12. Everyone is paid based on our rank regardless of their job

 

TV WEATHER:

1. Forecast at the surface

2. No aviation forecasting

3. Forecast for civilians

4. Forecast for the TV station’s viewing area

5. People have a choice for which news source they get their weather from

6. Most stations require a degree in Atmospheric Sciences/Meteorology

7. As little as a few days of training

8. Use civilian based weather products to forecast

9. Convey the weather to the viewers through TV

10. Typically only have 3-5 Meteorologists on staff

11. The NWS issues watches, warnings, and advisories

12. Salaries vary greatly

 

There are a lot of differences between the two jobs and I am sure I missed some, but this gives you an idea on how the nature of the two jobs are so different. However, there are actually many similarities between the two jobs as well.

MILITARY WEATHER AND TV WEATHER:

1. Overall purpose is to inform people of what the weather is going to be like so that people can make safe decisions

  • Lives are the number one priority, in addition to, protecting property from damages

2. Forecast accuracy is key

  • People count on our forecasts

3. The difficulties and struggles of forecasting are similar

4. Use Meteorological knowledge and computer models to help forecast

5. Most of us love the weather!

6. Most of us are under some sort of contract

Hopefully I have helped cleared up some questions of the similarities and differences between military weather and TV weather for everyone who might have wondered.  As with any job there are always difficulties, as well as ‘trials and errors,’ but the best part is, we love what we do!  If I missed anything feel free to reach out and ask me your questions!

 

Kole Fehling
Meteorologist
Twitter: @KoleFehlingWX
Facebook: Meteorologist Kole Fehling

 

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