The Meat of Meteorology

If you read this blog regularly, you probably already know I forecast the weather on TV. That’s my job and I’ve been doing it for over 20 years (and about 35 years broadcasting in general).

I am not a meteorologist. There are three others on our meteorology staff at work, and we all do the same thing. I do what a meteorologist does. Forecasting is a skill I’ve studied over the last 20 years and, hopefully, mastered.

A year and a half ago, the general manager of our station asked if I would formalize my education, become a meteorologist and get the AMS Seal (AMS is The American Meteorological Society). The AMS Seal is pretty much the ‘gold standard’ for broadcast weather forecasters. I said yes and enrolled at Mississippi State University in their distance learning program. When I’m finished, I will have a certificate in meteorology, not a bachelors degree.

Now, with my Summer ’05 completion looming, I see the AMS is changing the rules for broadcast meteorology again. I say again because 20 years ago there was no formal education component of the seal at all.

This time, they will eliminate the seal program and replace it with Certified Broadcast Meteorologist or CBM. In order to receive the CBM, you will need to have a BS in meteorology, not just the core 50+ credits that Mississippi State provides. The seal program will continue until 2008, meaning I will be able to qualify and receive one, though not the CBM.

Why would the AMS care if you have other credits and a degree beyond the core courses? My guess is, the more traditional universities have seen the MSU program and realize the only way they can compete with it, or have their graduates compete with it, is to change the rules and (possibly) eliminate it.

I have just had an email conversation with the director of the MSU program. I don’t think he realized how this rule change would affect what they’re doing. I think he does now.

The question is, what is the reason for having the AMS Seal in the first place? If it’s to help viewers shop for a scientifically based presentation, with this move the AMS has gone too far. Even the current qualifications provide more than enough screening.

If its purpose is to promote the fortunes of the traditional schools of meteorology, and their students, this change will achieve the goal.