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Want to be a meteorologist? Check out Virginia Tech’s meteorology program!

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Happy Monday and welcome to another edition of Beyond The Forecast!

The new school year is right around the corner and many high school seniors will be deciding on colleges and career paths very soon.

If you’ve ever had an interest in the weather and would like to pursue meteorology as a career, look no further than Virginia Tech! An undergraduate degree in Blacksburg can lead to quite a few different careers in the weather world. I reached out to a few graduates and students on Twitter to get their take on the program.

“I would tell them that they’re applying to one of the best meteorology programs in the country,” student Ashleigh Yanoscsik said. “The experiences you get to have in this program and the professors are absolutely unmatched.”

2019 graduate Peter Forister said, “A LOT of people in the program either go straight into the NWS or straight into a broadcast with one of the local stations.”

“I personally am considering the NWS route and the connections and the chance to complete the capstone course they offer with the Blacksburg office have made me feel very prepared for my career,” student Elizabeth Danco said.

Recent graduate Casey Hockenbury said, “The program does a good job preparing you for forecasting. I’ve had interviews for jobs in both private and public corporations.”

Another recent graduate Kayleigh Addington said, “The department and major are small, especially compared to the rest of the university, so it’s easy to find your ‘people’ and develop a healthy, working relationship with your peers and professors.”

It’s a good idea to work with an advisor to determine the proper course path for your career goals. For example, communications electives may be valuable for someone looking to get into TV after graduation, while a prospective geospatial analyst may want more geography or GIS courses.

“I think the most important advantage with VT’s Met program is the very close connection to the geography department and coursework - there is a lot of GIS and spatial data training that is done, including and that allows for a very robust skillset when it comes to finding a job or expanding professional skillsets,” Forister said.

In addition to the more specialized classes, every student must complete a variety of math and science courses that vary in difficulty.

“The math and upper-level meteorology class requirements can be difficult at times but the professors are so helpful and friendly and are there to help you through the classes and get your degree,” Danco said.

You will have to complete a field experience course at some point during your time at Virginia Tech. Examples include an internship at a local TV station and the Hokie Storm Chase.

“If there’s any experience that I would say is a must-do, the Great Plains Storm Chase is the one. Taking the forecasting knowledge I’d gained from my courses and being able to apply that in the field was incredible,” Yanoscsik said.

A big plus to living so close to a great meteorology school? In-state tuition! Virginia Tech is one of two universities in the state that offers meteorology, along with George Mason.

You’ll pay more if you go to another nearby school like UNC Charlotte, NC State or Maryland. Here are the numbers from the U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” Rankings.

Contact information for prospective and current students, along with a link to apply can be found on Virginia Tech’s website.


Switching gears to your forecast, we are tracking severe thunderstorms as I type this newsletter. We’ll go from stormy to steamy in the coming days as a high-pressure heat dome sends temperatures through the roof! Meteorologist Chris Michaels breaks it down in our daily forecast article.

You can always get specific forecast details for your zone, whether it’s the Roanoke Valley, Lynchburg area, the New River Valley or elsewhere around Southwest and Central Virginia, anytime at WSLS.com/weather. Know your zone!

In case you missed it, we’re posting great weather and science content on WSLS.com. Here are a few links from the past week to check out:

If you prefer your weather information delivered by social media, you can follow Your Local Weather Authority on Facebook and Twitter.

You can also keep up with me on social media. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, follow along!

-- Justin McKee


About the Author:

Justin McKee presents the weather forecast on 10 News Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6 to 8 a.m. He also fills in for other meteorologists during the week.