Career as a Meteorologist: Al Peterlin

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

The following questions were answered by meteorologist Al Peterlin.

Q: What was your scariest moment when you were a meteorologist? Is it fun sometimes?
A: Being a meteorologist is usually fun. It's always interesting. No two days are ever an exact repeat, so there is no boredom. There are occasional "scary" moments but not dangerous ones. Occasionally, a warning of severe weather thunderstorms, floods, or tornado could be life threatening to the public. In trying to get the warning out, there can be stress in the a recognition of danger and a great desire to be right. (Al Peterlin)

Q: When and why did you first become a weather scientist?
A: I became a weather scientist in 1970. I was in the Air Force, which needed weather officers to brief pilots about weather. They sent me to the University of Oklahoma. In 1973, I left the Air Force and joined the National Weather Service, where I worked as a forecaster in several states before I was promoted. I'm now the Chief Meteorologist for the Department of Agriculture, where I study weather and how it affects farm production, livestock, and crops all over the world. Weather is a wonderful career. The work changes every day, it affects people's lives, and everybody likes to talk about the weather. If you like clouds, can learn math, and enjoy talking to people, you'd make a great weather forecaster. (Al Peterlin)

Q: How did you decide to be a meteorologist?
A: I was an enlisted man in the Air Force. I took tests at the education office and was sent to the University of Oklahoma to study meteorology the Air Forces choice. It was one of the best things ever to happen to me. I was not great at math before, but studying weather showed me how math could be used in a real job, and it made math easier to study more interesting to understand and more useful in "real life." Weather and climate are wonderful career choices. (Al Peterlin)

Q: How does the weatherman on TV point to the map (in the right places) without even looking at it?
A: The best answer is practice. There is a monitor out of view that the weatherperson watches and then reacts accordingly. (Al Peterlin)

  • Subjects:
    Seasons and Weather, Jobs, Careers, Work