June 10, 2011

Weekend Podcat and Who is a Meteorologist?

Here is my weekend podcast--I got a better microphone and increased the cursor size and the field of view...see what you think!

An issue that comes up a lot is: who is really a meteorologist? Are all TV weather folks meteorologists? Do you need a degree?

The U.S. Government is clear about this issue. To apply for a meteorologist position with the National Weather Service or other government agency you need a large collection of physics, math, and atmospheric sciences courses that generally requires a B.S. in atmospheric sciences/meteorology (atmospheric sciences and meteorology are essentially the same thing). There are about 78-80 schools in the U.S. that offer the necessary coursework. Meteorology is really a branch of applied physics and students have to have a lot of math: calculus, vector calculus, ordinary and partial differential equations. Plus physics, plus computer science, plus the whole array of atmospheric sciences classes (atmospheric physics, atmospheric structure, atmospheric dynamics, weather prediction, climate science, etc). And a B.S. only provides a foundation...one needs a graduate degree to really have any depth.

For my money, to call oneself a meteorologist, you should should have at least this background.

All NWS forecasters meet these requirements. Only about half of the TV weathercasters in this country do. So to be honest, not all TV weather folks are meteorologists, but are weather communicators. Many military forecasters do not have this training (they go through less rigorous training, but their officers have real degrees).

New KUOW Facebook Feedback Site:

One good thing that came out of my troubles with KUOW is that a group of articulate, motivated listeners have come together with the hope of improving their public radio station. They created a Facebook page where all listeners could provide their ideas for improving KUOW, without fear that their comments would be removed by KUOW management (which has happened I understand). Called KUOW Listeners Speak Out, this site is available at:


Ten years ago, unhappy listeners would have been limited to writing letters, sending emails, and making a call. Now they can interact and build their own community with the goal of giving the listeners a strong and powerful voice on how public radio is run.


  1. Love the podcast! I can't wait until we get some really interesting weather so you can go to town explaining it (as I know you love to do). Thanks!!

  2. Thank you for the video podcast, Cliff! Those bird echoes are amazing... it's hard to believe the sheer volume of them.

  3. It sounds great. Thanks for the podcast and the information about what/who is a meteorologist.

  4. Thanks, I really hope you keep doing these. Especially as it gets into summer and camping season. That's when I really look to the weather—July through October. And thanks also for your actitivism on math, with two small kids just starting school, I've learned a lot from research based on your statements. From what I've learned, I'm amazed at Seattle school's position. Glad I'm in Edmonds where a degree of sanity seems to keep hold.

  5. Cliff - I think your weekend podcast is awesome! I think I like this better than the forecasts you had on KUOW. This has pictures which really explain your reasoning behind the forecast. Also, I can listen to your forecast without having to fast-forward through 45 minutes talk just to hear your forecast.

  6. Also, I think it's long been known that TV weather forecasters are little more than talking heads. Your approach is a silver lining in an otherwise grey low cloudbank. And while I'm at it, your book "Weather in the Pacific Northwest" was enlightening to read—and his from someone who isn't all that keen on weather. I used your book to edit a few Wikipedia pages on relevant topics. I suspect the KUOW issue is dead, but I wish you luck in your future endevours.

  7. The question of who should be allowed to assume the title of "Meteorologist" seems a bit dated to me; this is something scientists were rolling their eyes at the TV about in the 1970s and '80s, if not earlier.

    More relevant in today's political environment would be the question, "what qualifications should one have to call oneself a Climatologist?"

    My outsider's understanding of the terminology problem is that atmospheric science is a much, much smaller pond than certain other sciences; I'm guessing there just aren't the same guilds, grants, exams, legal standards, private-sector demand, etc, that one would find in, say, materials science.

  8. Really like the video's. It helps me to understand better what you are saying. Since I didn't always catch you on KUOW, I find this venue better.

  9. Hello Cliff
    Thanks for the podcast, very well done. It always so nice to learn the reasons behind the forecast

  10. I have always enjoyed your radio segments and your blog, but combing the audio with photos is even better I think. Thanks for the weather education.

  11. Thanks Cliff, Great to see your podcast. I think it is better than hearing you on that radio thing.

  12. Thank you, thank you Cliff. "Show and tell" sure beats plain "tell" for me. Love the 'birdar' images and thanks for telling about the radar 'seeing' the sun. Does the radar beam actually bounce back from the sun or is it just imaging the normal incoming solar radiation?

  13. Thank you for continuing to put time into the weekend forecast and weather education. The visuals are interesting and helpful. You continue to open my eyes to the nature of living in the Pacific Northwest.

  14. Cliff, you are telling us that birds are flying in the dark all night long? That many of them? I might have accepted bats doing so, but birds?

    As for the KUOW, your new podcast is vastly superior, esp the 720P version, and I would urge you to move on and embrace the change in a positive manner. Forget the KUOW, they're sick and have lost the way, don't let them drag you down Bro!

    - John

  15. Is that WRF model interface available to the public? I'd love to have a cloud forecast. Whats the link?

  16. Dr. Mass,

    I am maddened by the KUOW situation.

    However, the podcast is better than the radio since pictures tell a thousand words.

    - Bert

  17. E--here is the url for the mesoscale models:

    After you go to one of the models,
    look for the cloud loops--for
    instance "Outgoing Longwave Radiation (similar to IR satellite)"
    which does a nice job of showing
    frontal systems and mid and high clouds. For low marine stratus the loop to load is "Lowest Cloud Water (sfc - 3K ft)".

  18. Cliff, these podcasts are really awesome!! I enjoy the ones for the weekend. I went up to Edmonds with my girlfriend and enjoyed sunny skies on Saturday of all days...it was suppose to be the cloudiest, but over the north-central sound, it was picture perfect. Thanks so much for doing these. Hope you had a great weekend yourself!

  19. Cliff, please keep doing these podcasts, much better than the radio show!

  20. Cliff,
    Do you read these comments ?
    If so, please tell me there is a chance that we will have some sun on Father's Day.
    I am not asking for myself, I am asking for the 800 folks who will come to Manchester for our annual Salmon Bake in support of our library. We own and operate this building -- and it rained the last two years. Thanks, Ray


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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