As It Turns Out, I Love Weather

HRRR model forecast precipitation. It simulates a NEXRAD composite reflectivity — a stronger return than what’s usually shown on TV, base reflectivity.
250mb (Jet Stream) winds next 384 hours.

My next on-air appearance isn’t until Monday evening. I’m looking at weather maps anyway. It’s what I do.

Like so much else in life, becoming a meteorologist was a sort of random occurrence. Most meteorologists I know were fascinated by weather growing up. Not me. I was a city boy. The buses always ran. The subways always ran. In New York City you look down.

Growing up I wanted to be on radio and was for eleven years. TV didn’t attract me until I was around 30.

My first TV job was co-hosting PM Magazine/Buffalo. We began in late August, when Buffalo is its most charming. It really is a lovely city until about Thanksgiving.

Everything you think you know about Buffalo weather is correct.

PM Magazine was an ‘on location’ show. It was one of the first to take advantage of the change from film to tape.

1980 was before the ubiquity of four wheel drive. We drove Buffalo’s winter in a large Dodge van.

It didn’t take long to realize this wasn’t a good career choice. I remember doing ins-and-outs in front of Army helicopters at Niagara Falls International. It was so cold my lips couldn’t properly pronounce words!

A weekend weather job opened up at the station. Two days a week I could stay off the road. Of course I knew zero about meteorology.

I started to look into weather and was quickly hooked. I’m a math guy. I like maps and charts and graphs. Weather was full of those.

It didn’t take long for Helaine and me to drive to Toronto scouring for books on meteorology. I made friends with the guys at the Buffalo Weather Service Office. I took it all seriously.

Later I took 53 credits from Mississippi State University and received their certification. That qualifies me to join the American Meteorological Society and call myself a meteorologist.

The maps and charts really do talk to me. I look at my tools and feel the weather. It’s pretty cool.

Another lucky choice.

Empty Nest: The Tweet Are Gone

Tweet family home, circa 2017.

I just walked over where the Tweet family used to live. They’re empty nesters now, literally! They’ve flown the coup.

We read up on Mourning Doves. All this is expected. The Tweets took a day or two longer at each stage than most. More time for us to observe. There is a stepladder positioned in front of the tree. We were dedicated.

The doves were still in the neighborhood a few days ago. I saw the kids up on a wall. Two days ago the four of them were on-the-ground. The twins were being taught to find and eat seeds. Mourning Doves spend lots of time walking.

The nest is is good shape. It’s possible mom will be back to lay her next clutch of eggs. It’s also possible she felt the Foxes were a little intrusive and they’ll search elsewhere.

Having birds choose our easily accessible tree to build a nest and raise chicks was really, really cool.

My Biggest Fan

I just got off the phone with my dad. He’s good.

“I’m a Brewers fan now,” he said.

Why not? He’s in Milwaukee. He watches every game. My dad’s loaded with spare time.

He told me about the Brewers’ win in spite of five errors and their over-the-top double play.

Sorry Yankee fans, he’s turned on you.

We talked about work and this last week for me on Channel 8. “There are few people who can say they like what they do.”

He’s right. I’m very lucky.

I reminded my dad how he’s always been supportive. Back in the radio days he’d drive along the Belt Parkway from Brooklyn into Queens and listen to me, first on WBT, later on WPEN.

Even now he watches every day. Thank you Internet.

It makes him smile. Me too.

Ann Nyberg asked me to put some video of my dad on TV. Hopefully, this week.

We’re A Week In

“You know, it really does feel like 11:15.”

That was Helaine’s observation as I passed her on my way upstairs to change into pajamas. She’s right.

It’s Friday. The news runs just 15 minutes with an expanded sportscast next.

I was out of my suit by 8:17 Pacific Time.

This last week on WTNH scrambled my circadian rhythm just a little. It’s now nine thirty. It feels like midnight.

“Maybe we should set all the clocks to Eastern,” she said.

To do this right you need to be immersed, but it probably doesn’t help that I’m Straight Outta Chemo.

I watch a little of the news. I listen to it all. My earpiece is connected to a phone dialed into one of News 8’s IFB lines. The producers and I chat a little before my hits. Most often asked: “How long do you need me to go?”

On most days weather is collapsible or expandable on demand. News breaks. Stuff runs long… or short. I’m very flexible.

Phil is also there. “Mic check, Fox,” Phil will say, then add. “How are the girls?”

Next week I’m going to ask the producers if they do anything different just because I’m far away? I don’t think so.

A week in and as far as I can tell no one really cares that I’m in California. Thank you. I was hoping for that.

It Doesn’t Seem Like A Tiring Job

Four days into my seven week summer run on News 8 WTNH and I can feel the lingering effects of my cancer treatment. I’m exhausted!

For safety sake with my remote operation I begin work a little early, around 2:00 PM EDT. That gives me three hours to prepare forecasts for Connecticut and my stations in Nebraska. Though there were a few 100º+ readings in Nebraska today, the forecasts for there and Connecticut were fairly easy.

We have lots of computer help nowadays, but those are always my words on the screen.

My TriCaster control room has not been thrilled with the new tasks I’ve asked it to perform. It takes extra time to make sure everything runs close to smoothly. I am constantly worried something that worked an hour ago won’t work now! It’s happened.

I’m on a 10 second live tease at 4:30, then record a few additional teases that run during prime time. I even get to say “Don’t go to sleep yet.”

Five to six thirty is news time. I do seven hits — long and short.

At six thirty I record my cuts for Nebraska (where it’s still 5:30). The first of those runs at the top of-the-hour, so there is a deadline.

Tonight I finished Nebraska, walked upstairs, washed my makeup off and went to bed. I slept around 90 minutes. I needed it.

I was in the studio at 9:00 to begin updates and prep. Phil Zocco and I ran a quick test of my gear at 9:30. He calls me Fox. He always has.

2,492 miles away and it works! My studio is partially powered by magic.

From 10:00 to 11:35 it’s news time. I’m on often. In between each hit the TriCaster is adjusted for its next playout.

I left the studio tonight as the news ended, walked upstairs and changed to pajamas. If there’s a prize for first News 8 employee in PJs, I win!

“It’s like coming out of chemo,” I told Helaine as I came back downstairs. “It’s like Sunday afternoon when the effects are starting to go away.”

My whole body is exhausted. It’s not a sleep tired (though I’d fall asleep in a second). It’s an everything tired.

I remember a similar situation when I started back on News Channel Nebraska after my Whipple surgery. The first week or two was taxing before I regained strength.

Chemo ended on the 22nd, just two weeks ago. I finished my treatments anemic. It’s going to take a while. You can’t just wish yourself strength.

Meanwhile, the rush of being back on Channel 8 is letting me forget about the fatigue while I’m in the studio. It’s all very cool. I’m enjoying the hell out-of-it.

Thanks for taking the ride with me.

Day One Is Done

My whole day was spent fretting; worrying what would go wrong. My mother called it “eating your kishkas out.” The sky fell in around 4:00 PM EDT. The maps and charts for my longer weather hits were failing.

Bill Koczocik shot this in the Channel 8 studio during the 5:00 PM newscast.

My first day back on WTNH from my home studio was not without its hiccups. My hope is it was cleaner going home than my perception.

To explain my day, I first have to explain what’s going on.

I’m back on News 8 WTNH for a little summer weather. I’ll be hanging around on TV for the next seven weeks.

All of this is coming from my studio in California via the Internet. It’s pretty amazing stuff.

Unfortunately, today it failed us briefly, but noticeably. The video froze!

Phil Zocco (who was in Master Control my first day at Channel 8 in 1984) tweaked the recipe that trades lag for dependability. We’re hopeful we’ve fixed the problem or at least moved in the right direction.

My whole day was spent fretting; worrying what would go wrong. My mother called it “eating your kishkas out.”

The sky fell in around 4:00 PM EDT. The maps and charts for my longer weather hits were failing. Macro programs that worked perfectly last night didn’t today! It had to be something I’d done, but what?

Sam Kantrow and I shared the 5:00 o’clock weather was I worked the problem. He took the long hits, I took the short ones.

By the top of the six I’d come up with a solution. I spoke to the boss on the phone and assured him we’d be OK. And, we were.

There were a few other tiny problems you probably wouldn’t notice. An improperly set default skewed the colors on all my maps. Fixed.

I’m going to Home Depot to buy sandbags to keep me from moving all the way back to the wall. That should eliminate a few chroma key shadow problems.

It’s Day One. If bad stuff’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen today.

Meanwhile, I have more macros to write.