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Work of a Weather Forecaster ...
17 November 2017

Weather Forecaster. Michelle

I’ve been working as a meteorologist with Met Éireann for the last 11 years, mainly in aviation forecasting but more recently I’ve also joined the RTÉ TV weather team. A typical working day starts from the moment I wake up. I’ll glance out the window to see how the weather looks, as this will help me to start building a picture of the day ahead. Going for a run is a great way to get a good feel of the weather, as is observing the clouds as I drive to work. This is whether it’s to the Aviation Service Division of Met Éireann at Shannon airport, the weather office at RTÉ, or to Glasnevin. I may also be lucky on my journey to catch one of my colleagues delivering a radio broadcast.


As an aviation forecaster, communication is a key part of my job. The first thing I need to do on an aviation shift, is to get a handover of the weather situation from a colleague, who will have been looking after all aviation forecasts and warnings of hazards in Irish airspace for the past 12 hours. Then it’s my turn to take over responsibility for the next 12 hours, before I in turn hand it on. It’s a very challenging role, but one I thoroughly enjoy. It involves gathering information and knowledge from numerous sources; such as from satellites, radar, observational data and the data output of numerical weather prediction models. I’ll also need to draw on my training, my experience of similar situations and take local factors such as an airports location and surroundings into consideration. From a thorough analysis, I then need to make key forecast decisions for all our airports on important aviation weather variables such as visibility, cloud level, wind speed & direction and significant weather. I’ll also need to be constantly monitoring our airspace in order to warn aviation users of hazards in the air or on the ground such as frost, snow, thunderstorms, turbulence.  I may also need to discuss some of the warnings with our UK Met Office colleagues to ensure consistency.

Met Éireann weather observers at our four main airports, Dublin, Shannon, Cork and Knock, play a vital role in aviation forecasting. They’re our “eye on the sky” and keep us up to date as the weather evolves. In a changing weather scenario I could be speaking with them numerous times a day. I’ll also have briefing conversations with and provide forecasts for aviation weather users such as airport authorities, air traffic controllers, airline personnel, pilots, search and rescue staff and balloonists. These users rely on accurate and timely aviation forecasts, to help them make decisions, with safety a priority always. My aviation forecasts can be seen right around the world, and are used by airlines as they head towards Ireland.

A typical day at the RTÉ weather office and studio is a very busy one and the core of the background forecasting work is very similar to what I do during an aviation shift.  I am part of a team that’s passionate about delivering the weather forecast to the people of Ireland… and all in 2 minutes! I produce all the charts for my own broadcast, decide on my story, and then it’s off to the studio. It’s then practice, adjust the camera and then before I know it, it’s countdown to a “live” broadcast. I don’t have a script or autocue, I’m simply telling my weather story as I stand in front of a “blue screen”, with my charts to help paint the picture to you. It can be nerve wracking, but it’s very exciting and enjoyable. I get great satisfaction in communicating the weather to everyone watching.

My route to weather forecasting stemmed from my joint interests in the weather and mathematics. I completed a B.Sc. in Applied Mathematics & Computing at the University of Limerick. I followed this with an MSc. degree in Financial & Industrial Mathematics at Dublin City University. I then worked as a data and business analyst in the IT industry, before making my way to Met Éireann. I undertook an MSc. degree in Meteorology in UCD, before embarking on training at Shannon airport sitting alongside other aviation forecasters. My training and learning is ongoing…….

I often get asked what’s the best part of my job…. It’s about helping people make the best decisions they can from my weather forecasts; from deciding on hanging out the washing, bailing the hay or landing a jumbo jet.

 
MET ÉIREANN, Glasnevin Hill, Dublin 9, Ireland Tel: +353-1-8064200 Fax: +353-1-8064247

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