The Gulf Coast’s finicky weather may be a challenge to predict, but Jason Smith takes the high pressure in stride. The native Mobilian, who graduated from Ole Miss and studied meteorology at Mississippi State, interned for local stations and took plenty of notes from Bay area meteorologist legends John Edd Thompson and David Glenn. After conquering his fear of being on TV, Smith followed in their footsteps. Today, he boasts the National Weather Service’s Seal of Approval and a broadcast meteorologist certification that attests he can forecast with the best of them.
What do you find interesting about being a meteorologist in Mobile?
There’s plenty of rain and weather to track here. When we’re in an extended dry spell, I tend to get stir-crazy. There is a lot of diversity of the natural areas. The fall is amazing, with cool fronts and fishing and hunting seasons kicking off. I also really enjoy winter precipitation. While hurricanes are fascinating, they’re hard on the community.
What does hurricane season mean for you?
We’re all on full alert here. The first several months of hurricane season are typically quiet. We review our game plan, ready graphics and keep an eye out. We see tropical storms, but nothing too strong. No one plans any vacations, and everyone anticipates the extra work. Everything stops when we see a system develop. Then, in August and September, we’re tracking storms.
How do you put together a weather forecast?
I spend about two hours each day looking over models, reviewing what’s the big story in weather. Later, I start creating my graphics. Then, the National Weather Service comes out with their forecast. It all comes together in an afternoon. By 5 p.m., it’s time to do the weather. By 9 p.m., there may be changes. Weather segments are not on a teleprompter; it’s all ad lib. I might cover it for two minutes, or it might take five. My job is part computer graphics, part public speaking, part weather and part Web guru.
What’s one thing you would tell your viewers about yourself?
I’m kind of a blue-collar guy with a white-collar job. I like to get my hands dirty, to understand how things work and how to grow things. I have a garden, and I like to fish and hunt. (Smith also hosts a regular nature and recreation show on FOX10, “Outdoors with Jason Smith.”) Spending time with my kids is most important, and I try to include them in my projects.
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