From the ABC 7 Weather team

Bob Ryan: A lifetime of weather

May 22, 2013 - 11:42 AM
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Later Wednesday night, I'll give my last forecast on TV sitting next to my ABC colleagues Alison Starling, Leon Harris and Tim Brant.

This has been a journey (not over yet by the way) that began when I was a young kid who always loved the sky and the weather. I never dreamed I would be a broadcast meteorologist for some 45 years. 

Like so many of  us who love what we do, have done, and have yet to do, teachers were critical to where I find myself today. Science and math were my favorite subjects in school and my general science teacher really encouraged me.  I was the only kid in the 9th grade who really loved the weather. I did get 100 on the general science section on the atmosphere.  But he also was a great adviser for my science fair projects. 

Here I am with one of favorite projects, my homemade Van de Graff generator.  Must be some distant relative of NewsChannel 8 meteorologist Brian.

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I was still the local paperboy in the town where I grew up and was out in all sorts of weather and loving it. I still don't like terrible tornadoes such as just hit Moore, Okla. or ice storms. I wanted to be a weatherman - a meteorologist.  But in the 1950s, most of the jobs were working as forecasters for the U.S. Weather Bureau. That meant "shift work." I might have to work midnight-4 AM sometimes.

I was never keen on getting up early and the idea of shift work (still not a good idea for my many friends in the NWS who get burned out after 30+ years and we lose great meteorologists to retirement) was not appealing. About the same time, I saw the first earth satellite, Sputnick in the night sky. That was really exciting. I was going to build rockets.

Here I am with my other science fair project with model rockets.  

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 But after a number of years at college and studying physics, I still loved the weather and was lucky enough to meet another wonderful teacher who became my mentor and lifelong friend. 

Dr. Bernard Vonnegut (yes Kurt's brother) here with other teachers from SUNY Albany from the right Duncan Blanchard, Bernie, Vincent Schaefer and Ray Falconer. 

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 Here I am conducting an experiment for Bernie.  

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We were forming small whirlwinds from the heating from an electrical discharge. I did not electrocute myself but did come close. Ray suggested I look up the great weathercaster Don Kent as I began a career in research in Boston. I was fortunate to get a moonlighting job at one of the first 10 PM newscast in Boston (the news was canceled after 9 months). Thanks to encouragement from legends such as Don and my colleague Bob Copeland, I was soon on my way from a research lab to broadcast meteorology. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Would you hire this guy today wearing a horse blanket for a sport jacket?  Actually that was the style and my wife has picked out what I wear every day for 35+ years. Even getting up with me at 2:30 AM when I was doing the Today Show from 1978 to 80. 

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Then I spent 30 years at NBC4 with terrific coworkers and friends like Vance and Doreen and many years of writing my Almanac.

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The proceeds of the Almanac go to children's charities. Of course, there is also the Golden Snow Shovel contest and the first digital weather site in Washington with friends Dave Jones and Mark Hokezma.  

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With sponsors, we placed 300 interactive weather stations in area schools (now our WeatherBug network here).

And the, there is the last three years here with the wonderful team at ABC7. Our digital weather page with Doug and the entire team keep you up to date 24/7.  
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Helping a great team of designers and digital gurus has been just fun for a kid who never even saw a television until he was almost 10 years old. I still love the weather and how we communicate weather.  I still think we need to "complete the forecast" and really involve social scientists into our physical scientists.  A perfect forecast but not the best decsion is still not the best forecast. 
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There will be more fun things to do in my science when I step down from TV. But I will have more time with my life long partner and best critic, Olga and more time with Santa like this. 

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These are the reasons I'm now taking a break and can't wait to just watch that first snows in the seasons ahead and enjoy watching as I did 65 years ago as I have done forecasting for 40 years.

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Enjoy the weather and enjoy everyday. I'll see be around Washington and sure see you from time to time. Just smile and ask, "how's the weather?"  I'll smile and say "It's great."

 

 

 

 

 

 

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