The Blizzard That Changed My Life
Looking back, it’s all too perfect… a single event that laid out the pathway to nerddom for my future, and introduced me to two of my first loves. It’s like a script for some movie you’d never want to see; unless, that is, you’re interested in my personal life.
If the Blizzard of ‘93 hadn’t happened you probably would not know me. I might be doing something completely different — writing computer code, maybe. I might be happy or unhappy. I don’t think I’d be a meteorologist, though.
When the blizzard hit upstate New York, beginning on Saturday morning March 13th, 1993, I was in 9th grade. I had always been interested in the weather, from a young age, and even had the boxed weather-science kit to prove it. What made THIS storm special, though, was that it marked the first time I ever gave a weathercast.
No video exists (whew!) because my first few weathercasts were delivered to Mr. Vedder’s earth science class, during the schooldays leading up to the storm. Weather was a big part of the earth science curriculum in New York State in 1993 but student-delivered weather reports were not, and I can only imagine that I made a pest of myself until Mr. Vedder let me deliver a few on my own.
What did the class see? No fancy graphics, that’s for sure. I was using the DTC DUAT service, a dial-up text-based weather briefing system that pilots used, which spit out maps like this “radar” composite
This is a scan of an actual printout that I saved from the storm; as you can see from the date, I continued my “forecasting” that weekend when I got home.
I honestly don’t remember if my classmates cared about the storm, or if I hit my time cues during my delivery, but I do remember the feeling I had at the time; the excitement I got from sharing something I loved with the people around me. Who can’t relate to that, right? At least, I hope you can.
In the pre-internet era, during the storm I spent a lot of time listening to “The Official Weather Station” on 810 AM, WGY Radio. At that point in its history WGY was a full-service format, which meant the station played some music, and did a lot of news, information and weather along with some call-ins. When the blizzard hit WGY went live & local for the duration, with its DJs and hosts “volunteering” to get snowed in at the studio. (I now know that it was more like a hostage situation that ended with the only available sustenance coming from a can of SPAM.)
I remember thinking then, as I do now, how cool it was that this small group of people at the radio station could keep an entire region entertained and informed. Their voices cut through the air… the 50 mph winds and driving snow… and inspired me. Only 4 months later I became an intern at WGY with Jack Riccardi.
Now I’ve been forecasting the weather on TV for 13 years… on July 1st I’ll celebrate my 20th year in broadcasting… and I owe it to one storm.
My amateur storm summary: