Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Weatherperson's Week: Hurricane Schwartz

NBC 10's chief meteorologist Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz is Philly born and bred, having graduated from Central High School.  The bow tie'd meteorologist got his itch for weather as a youngster by watching some of the classic meteorologists who graced Philadelphia in the 1950's and 1960's.

Schwartz credits "watching the great meteorologists Wally Kinnan and Dr. Francis Davis, plus Herb Clarke" as early inspirations while growing up that helped shape his career path.

"As did my 5th grade teacher. That’s when I decided to be a meteorologist."

Schwartz has been with NBC 10 since 1995, replacing John Bolaris in 2002 as chief meteorologist. I got to see a "typical" evening for Hurricane Schwartz during the 5 and 6 PM newscasts in January 2012 while attending an event that was held at NBC 10 also that evening. There's a lot more to the typical day for a meteorologist on TV than just brushing up on your makeup, making sure your graphics are set, and being on cue for quarter after the hour, or whenever your time is during the newscast.

Hurricane's day often begins in the morning on busier days, or early afternoon on a "slow" weather day as he gets acquainted with the weather and updating the forecast. Once to the station, Glenn writes a briefing for NBC 10's news department so they can plan their day. Then comes the all-important graphics preparation for air. Much of what is a part of the day for him includes collaboration with others at the station -- producers, directors, other meteorologists at the station.

Hurricane is a PSU graduate and has been around the industry through the technological revolution that's taken place over the past twenty plus years. "I started forecasting before computer models," Schwartz recalls. "It took a lot more skill and knowledge to produce good forecasts then, but it was easier to “beat” the NWS and other forecast outlets. Now, everyone has access to the same data for the most part and it’s tougher to significantly “beat” others."

Knowing that modeling is a huge part of the picture these days, he relies on European ensemble modeling to try to help him get that edge.

The Euro model was incredibly accurate with Sandy, which as we all know was the "big weather story" around here the past year. We asked him about the warning aspect of the storm, which was a bit unwieldy to say the least. Glenn agrees with the National Weather Service proposal to allow hurricane warnings to continue for transitioning or post-tropical systems, stating that "Sandy was a big mess in that regard, and totally unnecessary. It’s more important to communicate danger than to be precise scientists."

Glenn's more fond of warmth than cold off air but doesn't mind a big snowstorm approaching while on TV. Glenn's hobbies include raquetball and being an ardent Phillies fan, having followed the team since 1964.   His heart bypass surgery last year made news but Glenn's doing well and is back in the court regularly playing racquetball.

 He also has given back to the community through the development of a outreach program called H.O.P.E.S. (Hurricane's Outreach Program to Educate Scientists). According to his bio, the program strives "to mentor and provide a selected group of minority students with professional guidance and exposure to the field of meteorology."

There were two other pressing questions that mattered to us.

First, his advice to the aspiring meteorologist? "MATH, MATH, MATH, PHYSICS, PHYSICS, PHYSICS. Also English, writing, and public speaking. Meteorologists need to communicate what we know. The better you do it, the better chance of success."

In other words, brush up on your calculus!

Second, and more importantly, about his bow ties.  What were the craziest bow ties he ever purchased or received as a gift from a viewer?  Hurricane recalls two of them; a giant clown bowtie and also one that glows in the dark.  I suppose if there's ever a power outage at Channel 10 on a day he happened to wear that latter bow tie it will be easy to spot Glenn, just look for the guy who is glowing in the dark.