Interview with Lanie Pope
Lanie Pope speaks on the intricacies of broadcast meteorology and the future of weather predictions.
“In order to make a forecast, you need to know what is happening right now. I look at current temperatures, winds, humidity, dew points, satellite (cloud cover), and radar (rain) over the area as well as what is happening in surrounding areas. Most of our forecasting is done using computer models which run on math equations with an input of what is happening now and then calculate what should happen next over a span of several days to a week. There are numerous models and model data to pour over each day. My job is to look at current data as well as model data to come up with my own forecast based on those things as well as what my experience has taught me over the years. There are times when I go against the models, because I have seen different things happen in different situations. The most difficult thing is that no matter what you think or forecast, there is always the possibility that it will not happen the way you think it will! In our part of the country, winter weather and snow are the most difficult. It almost NEVER happens. There are so many things that can work against snow forming. It is a fine art, and one that I am getting better at every year... but there's still lots to learn. The truth is that I am a forecaster.. and no forecaster is ever 100% correct. The mass of air we're tracking is too large and diverse with tiny nuances everywhere.”
How do you see weather forecasting changing in the future?
“I believe we will be able to do more localized forecasts with computer models that cover smaller microclimates... which will allow for more input data, and better resolution and performance of the model over a smaller area. I also believe the way in which you receive your forecast will change. So much of it already has become digital and very social media driven. With Covid, we are even broadcasting from our homes- something I never thought I'd do! The technology is going to continue to change and improve in years to come!”
What were some obstacles for you when you entered the field?
“The biggest obstacle for me was getting my first job on television. It is a very competitive business. Once I was in the business, it was a journey of about ten years to get to the point where women were considered competent to hold the role as Chief Meteorologist at a tv station and be the head of the weather department. Thankfully, that dream came true!”
What is your favorite season?
“Honestly, I love them all and it's one of the reasons I love forecasting in NC. We have 4 distinct seasons and lots of different types of weather... Not too much of anything, and a little bit of everything. If I had to pick- fall. I love the leaves and the crisp air!”