Nick Gregory, the longtime meteorologist from Fox 5 New York, visited eighth graders at Louis M. Klein Middle School to discuss the science and preparation involved in forecasting the weather in New York City and its outlying areas.
As part of the 8th grade science curriculum, the students have been studying meteorology and the impacts of weather in their classrooms. Meteorology is the study of the Earth's atmosphere and the variations in temperature and moisture patterns that produce different weather conditions. Mr. Gregory showcased the tools he uses every day in his job and walked the students through modelling such as the Penn State model (which is online and available to anyone) and some of the more detailed complex weather models such as the CNC or Canadian Model or the European Model (ECMWF).
As the details of the models became more complex, the students were able to answer many of the questions Mr. Gregory posed to them about temperature, moisture, isobars and atmospheric pressure, and wind – all necessary measurements in forecasting the daily and weekly weather in the area. The time stamp on the models helped the students to understand how meteorologists can pinpoint the timing of weather events.
“Having Mr. Gregory speak to the students reinforces what has been said in class,” said LMK 8th Grade Science teacher Fred DePalma, who is an avid watcher of FOX 5 News and Weather and reached out to Mr. Gregory to speak to the class. “It is real world learning in real time.”
The meteorologist spoke about the different colors on the maps - green indicating moisture and orange showing the dryness in the area. When the lines or isobars on the map are negatively tilted, this indicates to meteorologists that there could be rain or snow depending on the temperature. Although he could not predict when there would be a snow day, he did speak about the measurements of precipitation. For instance, 1 inch of rain could equal 10 inches of snow. However, it could be 20 inches of snow if the temperatures are colder and only 7 inches of snow if the temperature is warmer, all based on atmospheric pressure.
The students were also treated to the “showbiz” aspect of Mr. Gregory’s job. He explained to the eighth graders that he had wanted to be a meteorologist since he was in the 3rd and 4th grade, had always been interested in science and math, and as he got older was interested in calculus and physics. He does not have a script but spends the majority of his day researching the models and analyzing the numerical data that creates the weather story before he goes on the air at 5pm, 6pm and 10pm. Mr. Gregory answered questions about the “Green Screen” and explained how what the students see on TV is different than what he sees in the studio. Plus, he is never able to wear green or he would disappear.
As he told the students, “The best part of my job is that when I go to work, every day is different and every day is a challenge. This is a hobby I get to enjoy and get paid for.”