In celebration of National Weatherpersons Day, we spoke to some of our many meteorologists to gain some insights into their profession. Everyday this week we’ll be featuring a Q&A profile with one of our weather experts.
Today we focus on Ben Hershey, VP of Weather Service Operations. Ben is part of the team of meteorologists that staff Iteris’ Weather Operations Center 24/7 in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Why did you become a meteorologist?
Weather has always fascinated me from a very young age. For most meteorologists there is generally a weather event that drives them into the field of meteorology. For me it was two events. First was the “Super Storm” of 1987 in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area when a storm system ‘sat’ over the area and dumped inches of rain causing major flooding. My mom was pailing water out of the basement and my dad worked for a week straight at his job with the municipal water company. The second event was the Halloween Blizzard of 1991 in Minnesota. I remember trick-o-treating in several inches of snow and having no school afterwards for days. Along with my love of hunting and fishing, which revolves around the weather, I have also been fascinated by the unpredictability of the weather.
What do you find important about the subject?
Not to sound overly dramatic, but weather can be deadly, and understanding the true strength of Mother Nature is what makes our job important. If we can provide, even a moment’s notice, advance warning regarding a dangerous weather situation we can help people better plan for potential hazardous.
What is the biggest myth you've heard about the weather?
That we can be wrong and still get paid. Yes, there is an aspect of uncertainty in every forecast, but in general meteorologist do a good job of predicting what will happen in the near future. Another myth is all meteorologists forecast the weather. While many meteorologists go into the career path of forecasting the weather on the daily basis, there are many other careers from research to education.
What is the #1 question people ask you when you tell them you are meteorologist?
“What is this ‘season’ going to be like?” ‘Season’ is always the next 3 to 6 month block of time and while meteorologist do look to patterns in the future in most cases we do not have a great sense of the next several months.
For more weather insights, follow @Iteris_Weather on Twitter.