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AMS Minutes: February 28, 2017

The University of Georgia Chapter of the American Meteorological Society welcomed speaker Brian Monahan on February 28, 2017 in the Geography Building on the UGA campus. Chapter-funded food was served as chapter members assembled. The meeting was called to order at 5:40 PM by chapter president Ian Boatman.

President Ian Boatman began the meeting by making some general announcements about upcoming atmospheric science-related events. He then thanked everyone for coming and introduced the guest speaker, Brian Monahan of WSB-TV in Atlanta. Mr. Monahan is a broadcast meteorologist for the station. Mr. Monahan graduated with both a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Meteorology from Penn State University. In addition to Georgia, he has worked in various TV news stations from Washington State to Florida as a broadcast meteorologist.

Brian Monahan opened his presentation by introducing himself and how he got started in broadcast meteorology. He explained how he was fortunate to know that this was his passion from a young age, and that he was able to pursue it as a career. He then discussed that the jobs of broadcast meteorologists are expanding and changing rapidly. They no longer are simply a career for giving two-minute live weather forecasts; their roles have expanded to fields such as social media and field journalism. They are often responsible for reporting on subjects that are more loosely related to weather. Mr. Monahan explained that a large reason for this in the changing broadcast industry due to changing consumer demands. Based on data, the number of people watching cable TV who are under the age of 50 is decreasing rapidly. Furthermore, more people are getting news from online, since it is instantly accessible. Although this data may seem bad for those wanting a career in broadcast meteorology, there is some good news. Consumers still rely on their local news station during severe weather. Additionally, total hours that consumers view video streaming is increasing, so reporting is still necessary. Mr. Monahan also shared that although social media can seem like a damper on the television industry, it has also been extremely beneficial for improving weather records. Civilians are now able to be live eye-witnesses. They can easily share the weather they see out their own windows, which is highly beneficial for storm tracking and recorded weather events. Although there are obvious precision forecast benefits to this practice, it can also be challenging to sift through incorrect reports. Furthermore, many people are untrained and unfamiliar with critical knowledge such as their local geography or weather advisory definitions.

Mr. Monahan ended his presentation by discussing the “third rail” of broadcast meteorology: climate change. He explained that

President Ian Boatman adjourned the meeting at 7:00 PM.

Respectfully submitted,
2016-2017 UGA AMS Officers