Monday, July 30, 2007

The Wrap-up!

All good things must come to an end. Today is my last day as a 7News weather intern. This summer has reassured me that it is possible to reach my dream of becoming a meteorologist. I have learned so much and met so many great people here at the station. Never in my life have I felt so close to my dream.

I am getting ready to head back to school and continue plunging ahead with my classes. I know that the struggle and hard work of school will be worth it in the end. I hope to take these great experiences from the summer and use them to help me in the future.

Like Lisa said in a previous post, the people that work here are like a family and have welcomed and helped me without hesitation. I can't even dream of a better summer and would like to thank everyone that made it so great! The only way to make it big in this industry is to keep learning and keep a positive attitude because lets face it this job is awesome!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Out with a bang!

Today was my last day at the station, and boy did it go out with a bang! Right around the start of the 4 o'clock show, we started to see the radar screen light up. Storms began to develop just south of the Metro Area and though they were slow moving, they promised to head north into Denver. At last, after all the forecasts for heavy rain only to end in a weather no-show, our forecasts were right on and Denver was going to get hit by some much needed rain. Between updating the ticker and the website with the Flash Flood Warnings, I snuck outside the studio to get a first hand look at the rain. Though I love being in the weather center during severe weather, it's a bummer that they're aren't any windows. I was glad to sneak away for just a bit to see the lightning and rain from a window outside the studio.

I'm sad that my internship with 7News is over and as cliche as it sounds, I can't believe how fast it went. But I am glad to have ended on such an exciting note! It's days like these where I am reminded exactly why I am studying so hard at school. I cannot think of another field better suited for me than meteorology. With the tremendous amount of experience I have gained here at the station, and the many more things I will learn in my last two years of school, I am well on my way to a career as a meteorologist.

Thank you to everyone at the station who contributed to my wonderful experience and I wish the best of luck to the new fall interns. I'll keep in touch on the blog to let you know how the road through school is going.

And hooray for the original 24/7 Weather Intern bloggers, also known as "Mike's Angels"!

Things Coming to an End

As things are coming to an end, I am sad to go. This internship is the first job that I really have been sad to leave. I have learned so much about forecasting, TV, News, and like Hallie said, the geography of Colorado. I was able this summer to travel to a lot of the cities 7News forecasts for and have a much better idea of what the landscapes look like. This was a huge help in understanding the weather in those regions. I've decided that in the future I will make it a priority to travel through most of whatever state I forecast for to get a real life view of the region’s landforms. I've also developed some great friendships here as well. Life in the News station in the mornings is so much like being part of a family. Everyone is good friends and they are prone to joke quite a bit during commercial breaks or even on the news in-between stories. They all get a long so well, and I am going to miss the great chemistry that is here at Channel 7. I'm sure their close relationships are not like most, and the community here can't be the norm for all stations.
This internship has given me a goal to strive for as well as allowed me to see what it would be like to work at a News station. Overall I would say this is one of the best, if not the best, internship in the west. I strongly encourage students to apply here and possibly take the morning shift. I was lucky enough to be the first morning intern, and I have to say, the morning is the way to go. Being up before even Starbucks is open is a bonding experience that allows everyone to know each other really well. I am under the impression as well, that because Scott Mace has no weather producer, the morning intern is able to help out with quite a bit more than those later in the day.

I enjoyed my experience immensely, I strongly recommend it for any student. I am going to miss my mornings here at Channel Seven.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Big Kahuna

Today, we had the priviledge of meeting the big fish of KMGH, Terry McGraw, the CEO of McGraw-Hill, which happens to be the company that owns our station. I never knew how we got the letters for our station ID "KMGH" but now it makes a lot more sense. Our storm chaser, Tony, explained to me that the "K" is used to represent any station west of the Mississipi and "W" is used for stations east of it. And apparently, the "MGH" stands for McGraw-Hill.

Everybody was both nervous and excited for his visit to the station. I've never seen the control room so tidy and even the engineers were dressed in suits and ties. We, interns, were able to sneak into the studio room for a bit, while Terry spoke about his visions for the company and the new technology soon to be introduced. He even came into the news studio for a bit to meet the weather staff personally.

It's not everyday that you get to shake the hand of the man who's in charge of your entire company, let alone the CEO of such a well known company as McGraw-Hill.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Onward to KU

As my summer comes to an end, I've started thinking about my classes for next semester. I'm a bit nervous, because "word on the street" is that the two meteorology classes I'm enrolled in for the fall, are the two hardest meteorology classes I'll take at KU. The classes are Dynamic Meteorology and Physical Meteorology, though I couldn't even tell you what they are about. I guess I'll find out soon enough. They're supposedly so difficult because of how many calculations and equations are involved. Hopefully my 6 previous calculus classes will be of some help.

Though these two classes will definitely be a challenge, I am excited to finally be focusing completely on my major. My other classes include Environmental Studies and Multimedia Reporting. I'm really looking forward to Environmental Studies because I love learning about the impacts humans have on the environment. My journalism reporting class will also improve my storywriting and speaking skills.

That's the best part of becomming an upperclassman in college. You finally get to focus on your major and take classes that you're interested in. Bye bye awful gen. eds. (general requirements) The classes will be tough next semester but atleast they will all be subjects I am interested in.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Almost Done!

As this internship comes to a close, Ava and I were discussing everything that we had learned this summer. Everything from forecasting to checking out the helicopter to climbing up on the roof, I have learned so much that I will be able to take away from this internship.

I never realized how important it is to know the geography of the state that you are forecasting in. It seems obvious that the mountains would be cooler than the plains, but what about wind directions and how fronts stall over the mountains for long periods of time. These are all things that I have learned are very important to forecasting in Colorado. Accurate forecasts are hard sometimes because the weather is so unpredictable especially in Colorado. It just makes me realize how important it is to understand the geographic aspects of the state that you are working in. One of the negative aspects of the broadcast industry is that most people have to start in a smaller market and work up to the size market that you want to work in. This means moving around and being very flexible. Moving is hard in itself but the fact that you have to learn the geography of the state to be a successful meteorologist makes it even more difficult.

I can't believe that the internship is almost over. Just a couple more days until this great experience comes to an end.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Where did the rain go?

Yesterday, we were all gearing up for an "active" weather day in the weather center. These are my favorite days at work because there is so much to do. Our futurecast model was showing very high chances for storms in the afternoon in the Denver Metro area. By noon, the National Weather Service even put out a Flash Flood Watch for most of central Colorado. No matter which model you looked at, the conditions looked as though they were setting up a soaker of a storm. The newsroom called us to ask if they should send a camera crew out later to catch some footage of the rain.

So we waited, and waited, and waited for it to rain in Denver, and it never did. After all those warnings about heavy rain and flooding - nothing. I personally felt bad because many people had called into the station wondering about the rain. Many were concerned about flooding in their area and asked how much it was going to rain. I told them exactly what we all thought was going to happen - "good chance for rain, with the possibility of heavy rain at times".

I felt bad for telling those people something that didn't end up actually happening. I'm not used to people asking me what the forecast will be and I felt like I let them down. But I think it's good for me to get used to being wrong once in awhile. Weather forecasting has improved tremendously over the years, but it will never be perfect. Rather than focus on the negative, I think it's good to focus on the fact that we get so many forecasts right. Every so often, you're going to get those forecasts that just bomb. To survive as a meteorologist, you have to learn how to brush it off and know that you will do better next time.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Dream Job

Since I have been interning in the Weather Center, several questions have come into the station regarding what it takes to be a meteorologist. Some of the questions that were asked were related to the schooling required and what types of classes are necessary to land this dream job. Currently pursuing this type of career, I feel that I can accurately answer some of the questions.

To become a meteorologist takes a large amount of math and science courses. The further you can get ahead in high school math and science the better. I wish I would have known that when I was in high school! The general requirements for most undergraduate meteorology programs are two semesters of chemistry, two semesters of upper level physics, three semesters of calculus, and lastly one semester of differential equations. After the general requirements are fulfilled you can then take some real meteorology classes! This classes range from synoptic and dynamic meteorology to instrumentation and tropical meteorology. Some univeristies even offer broadcast meteorology classes.

Several universities and colleges all over the country offer meteorology programs. Currently I attend the University of Missouri in Columbia, Ava attends Kansas University, and Lisa attends Penn State. If you are wanting to stay in Colorado for college the only two colleges that offer an undergraduate meteorology program are Metro State and University of Northern Colorado. Colorado State and University of Colorado do offer graduate programs though. With climate change being such a hot topic in the news today, becoming a meteorologist is not a dead end career, at least in my opinion. My motto is if you have a dream, nothing should stand in your way (not even hard classes!)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Airtracker 7!!

Today I had the opportunity to spend time with Airtracker 7. I had the chance to not only see the chopper, but also sit in it. It's really neat that the helicopter can actually land on Channel 7. Most of the time the helicopter doesn't come to the station. It takes off from, and is stored at Centennial Airport. They had to drop by the station today because of some technical difficulties in the chopper. I got to meet Jayson Luber who does traffic from Airtracker 7 for the newscasts. He was sharing with me the perks and downfalls of his job. I can't get over the fact that his office is not inside the station or at home but actually inside a helicopter. I've always wanted a job that varies on a daily basis, and I'm pretty sure this takes the cake on that job requirement! Luckily, Tony Laubach was here today to capture this moment on film for me!

Talk About Live TV

Technology can be the most useful thing when it actually works. Yesterday at the station, we were not so lucky. It was about 3:56 pm when our camera operator realized that he didn't have control over any of the camera's. They had 4 minutes to figure out what the problem was before the live newscast began. Engineers began to flood the studio and try to get the camera's working. Talk about working under pressure! After a couple minutes they realized that they would not be able to get the camera's working in time for the first shot at 4. They decided that they had to move to to their backup plan, start the newscast in the newsroom. Usually the 4:00 news is split in half, one half is done in the studio and the other half is done in the newsroom. But the question in my mind was, with none of the camera's working in the studio, how were they going to do weather? There is only one green screen at 7News and that is in the studio. Luckily the camera in front of the green screen was still working since it isn't controlled by an operator. Richard Ortner's advice after the whole thing was done was to stay calm when things like this happen. This was something that was out of our control and therefore we couldn't change it. Luckily, they figured everything out by the time the 5:00 newscast was over in time for a normal 10:00 newscast. It's interesting to see what happens when technology doesn't work in the professional world. Overall, I can say that everyone handled the situation very well and stayed calm the whole time, I was very impressed.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Today I got to experience a different side to weather on TV. I came in a little later and got a chance to talk to Lisa Hidalgo about make up and camera presentation. She had me put on my make up normally and then told me what she'd do differently. It was very helpful. I never would have put that much make up on my self. She was so nice and even let me use some of her fancy MAC make up. I thought it looked like a lot, but i trusted her and she was completely right. On camera I looked much better. I am so excited because I get a chance to practice today in front of the green screen. Scott has told me to focus on being comfortable, making eye-contact, and feeling a little more conversational. He's told me to work on talking to the camera and not worrying so much about explaining the graphics. After his advice I watched a lot of other on camera meteorologists and noticed they spend no more then a 30 seconds talking about their graphics. I'd say after getting to do a lot here at channel 7, this part has been my favorite. It's especially fun to tape yourself doing the weather. Sometimes it's hard to watch yourself, but friends and family are always fans.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

24/7 Weather Experience

Today I had a chance to stop by the Cherry Creek Arts Festival and I made sure to stop by the 24/7 Weather Experience, which is a booth set up by 7NEWS which gives children the opportunity to stand in front of a green screen and see what it's like to be a meteorologist on TV.

It was really neat to see the kids up there, in front of the green screen. I was amazed by how confident they were -- all of them with a little twinkle in their eyes at the sight of seeing themselves on a TV screen.

I'm trying to imagine what I would have been like up there at their age. Since I was a little girl, I've always wanted to be on TV. From dreams of being a movie star to a TV anchor, and finally a meteorologist, a career in front of the camera has always intrigued me.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

I saw my first tornado (sort of)!

It was about 3:45 p.m. and I was working in the weather center, when I happened to look up at one of the TV monitors and noticed something unusual. This particular monitor was showing live video from our Thornton cam, looking south toward the Denver Metro Area. North of the downtown area, I saw what appeared to be a brown column of air.

At first, I thought that it might be a column of smoke from a fire. I quickly called Mike over to ask him what he thought it was. Ironically, at the same time, the monitor right next to the thornton video was showing footage sent in to the station of a landspout seen earlier this week. We looked at the two, side by side, and noticed how similar they looked. As we continued to watch the monitor, we could see that the column was indeed rotating.

Our storm chaser, Tony Laubach, was in the weather center as well, and recognized that it was, indeed, a landspout. A landspout, is a weak tornado, that spins upward from the ground rather than down from the cloud.

We quickly hit record and were able to capture a few seconds of footage of the landspout before it vanished. Not only did I get to see my first tornado from the live camera, but I am proud to say that I was the first to spot it on the monitor. Mike even mentioned my name on the news when talking about the landspout!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Note to Self...

Last Saturday, I decided to wear a new shirt to work. It wasn't until I went to practice the weather forecast, and stepped in front of the green screen, that I realized it wasn't the best shirt for TV. You see, the shirt I wore was definitely the color green. Not just any green, the exact same kelly green as the green screen. As I stepped in front of the camera, I no longer had on a green shirt but was wearing the national radar instead. --Now you see me, now you don't.

Mike Nelson calls it a little a bit of TV magic. Everywhere the camera sees green, it replaces the color with the weather graphic instead. In this case, that meant my entire green shirt.

The technical name for the green screen is "chromakey", and it can come in different colors, like red, blue or green. Red is not a good choice because skin tones have a lot of red in them. Also, women tend to wear lipstick in shades of red. Blue is not the best choice either because it's a common color for clothing. That makes green the best color to use for the screen. I remember Mike telling me once that they chose that color because nobody would wear that shade of green. Oops, I guess I did. Don't call the fashion police on me. :)

The moral of the story is that I should not wear green to work!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Today we got hit with some severe weather over the eastern plains. Not only were there thunderstorm warnings, (which we seem to get every day) there were also tornado warnings for several different areas! Since it is severe weather season, this type of weather can only be expected. Making tickers and crawls and keeping Mike informed on everything that was going on kept me busy for most of the afternoon. Luckily, the tornadoes that did touch down (9 of them!) were around rural areas so nobody got hurt to my knowledge. I think the extent of the damage was vegetation and live stock. We received some awesome viewer pictures of the tornadoes that Mike used on air. Looking at the pictures makes me realize how destructive these funnel clouds can be. Luckily in this case, not much was damaged. I give credit to the storm chasers out there, I just don't know how close I would want to come to one of those giant funnel clouds!

With the 4th of July fast approaching, cooler weather is in store for the Denver area. It's a little bit disappointing that the cooler weather happens to fall on a holiday but the break from the heat will be much appreciated. Hopefully enough precipitation will fall to help out with some of the fires still burning in Colorado.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Art of Forecasting

I have learned that the most important part of being a Broadcast Meteorologist is to make an accurate and news-friendly forecast. Mike actually lets us make our own forecasts to practice. He says that the best forecasting skills come from experience and knowing your Colorado terrain. Most people think that Meteorologists and Weathercasters take their forecasts directly from the National Weather Service and I can tell you firsthand, that this is absolutely not true.

To start the process of forecasting, we take a look at the different models that are produced from a computer in Washington D.C. These models show up as a picture of the United States, 500 Millibars above the surface with equal lines of pressure (isobars) all over them. The computer in Washington D.C. makes these models by calculating over 7 trillion calculations per second. Trust me, I'm taking a Calculus class right now and it is not easy. Without that computer, Meteorologists would have to do all of those calculations by hand. You can imagine how important this computer is to Meteorologists. The models that are printed show how the fronts move in and out by how close the isobars are to each other. These maps help Meteorologists make an extended forecast. After that, we take a look at at the MOS models. They give us an idea of what temperatures are estimated to be at, and what the precipitation chances are for the next couple of days. They are posted in Zulu time, so it can be a little bit difficult to figure out what the actual time is, but I think I've finally got it figured out! After that, we look at all the models and maps and make the forecast. Mike overlooks the forecast, changes what he wants, and then we enter the information into the computer for the show.

It is obvious to me, that with experience comes accuracy. With the amount of experience Meteorologists in this television market have, they usually have a pretty good idea of what's in store, at least as far as weather goes!