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January 10, 2018 10:00 PM

Behind The Scenes With The Weather Team

The weather is a popular topic this time of year. Everyone wants to know when it will snow, how much and when it's going to stop.

Our meteorologists get a lot of questions throughout the year. Some are about weather, and others are about how they do their job. We decided to get answers.

Our weather center has access to three live doppler radars, 25 specially equipped computers, and 30 live sky-cams. While you see them several times a day, there's a lot you may not know about our expert weather team! First, what does it take to become a meteorologist?

"A background of math and science. A lot of math and science. Then you take those kind of as your beginning classes and that helps weed out some of the students," said Scot Mundt. 

"Everybody at our station has a minimum of an atmospheric sciences degree. We have all the certifications. National Weather Association, American Meteorological Society," said Jay Trobec. 

"Obviously it takes testing, you have to go through a panel of judges. They have to look at your work and say, "Okay, are you doing things right or wrong," said Brian Karstens. 

Once you get the degrees and certifications, the real work begins. The weather team spends hours looking at forecast models trying to figure out what's coming next. But how far out can they really see?

"It depends on how accurate you want to be. If you're wanting absolute certainty, like an hour or two. But if you go out a day, now we can do that. It's just how specific we can be and how accurate we'll be widens a little bit," said Grant Smith. 

"As far as specific events, you don't like to talk about precipitation more than about a week out because the forecast models have so much chaos involved in them, they're not going to be right that often," said Trobec. 

Some of you had questions of your own and sent them to us on Facebook! Pamela writes, "What is the most exciting weather that they cover?"

"Probably the summertime storms. Any time we get an event of severe weather, it's so important for safety and we really consider that to be one of the main, top priorities we have with our staff," said Karstens. 

"Blizzards. Snow. That's always fun to try and predict. Snow forecasting because it's the hardest thing to do, and I enjoy it because it's so hard," said Smith. 

"Depends on the season. The one thing I do love, and people might think I'm nuts, is I love covering blizzards outside. Live. Yeah, can you believe it?! That's one part of the job I probably enjoy the most," said Mundt. 

Sitting here at the desk, we get our fair share of questions. However, the weathermen definitely get the most at the station. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions. 

Bjelland: How much snow is Scot predicting this year?
Karstens: Ha! He's around 43.5. I might be half an inch off.

Trobec: I can't remember what Scot said yesterday.
Bjelland: Any guesses?
Trobec: What was it, Grant?

"I mean, I don't. I don't know how he does it, so I just let him do it," said Smith. 

Bjelland: How much snow is Scot predicting?
Mundt: Scot is predicting 43.5 inches of snow for Sioux Falls.

Bjelland: You get a lot of silly questions, I'm sure. What have been some of the best ones that made you really laugh?

"I will forever and always love, 'When will, insert weather phenomenon, hit me?' And that one's funny to me because I don't know where you live! And I'm not going to creep on your Facebook profile to find out where you live," said Smith. 

"The question of, 'What job can you have where you're wrong half the time and still get paid?' That was kind of funny like the first 500 times we heard it. But now it's not so funny anymore," said Trobec.

Bjelland: Here's one that people get pretty passionate about. How do you decide when to interrupt T.V. shows?

"Oh! That's always a good question. Tornado warnings, first and foremost," said Mundt. 

"Severe thunderstorms, it depends. If it's a straight-line, 100 mph wind, that warrants breaking in. If it's nickel sized hail, probably not," said Karstens. 

Bjelland: That's controversial for some people. 

"It is, and certain television shows, to be honest, I'm a little nervous to cut into," said Smith. 

"The problem is, we're looking at the sky and we're looking at the radar. A lot of times we're not looking at what's going on in the soap opera. It can cause problems where we cut in at just an inopportune time," said Trobec. 

Despite the random questions, long hours, and the constant need to stay up to date on new technology; the weathermen say they love their jobs.

"It's something I've always wanted to do. It truly is. When I was a kid, it drove my mom nuts, I would grab a cup out of the cupboard and put it outside right before the rains would come, just to see how much rain would fall. Then before you knew it we would have a bunch of cups out in the backyard. Can't use the same one," said Mundt. 

"Getting out talking to students. Sharing with them about my passion. I love doing that. Then also trying to predict the weather. Because to me, it's like a game. What's the weather gonna do," said Smith. 

"I get to wake up every day and give people information that is helpful. And I love doing that," said Karstens. 

"The best part of this job is, it is different every day. I mean, it's different every day and for us, we've got what I think is a really good group. The four of us are friends, and colleagues. The other three guys are younger, smarter and better looking than me, so we've got a pretty good team, I think," said Trobec.

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