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Don Schwenneker: WTAE, staff meteorologist

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Age: 30.

Birthplace: Des Moines, Iowa.

Years at WTAE: 2 plus.

Previous broadcasting experience: WTAJ-TV, Altoona, chief meteorologist; WAKA-TV, Montgomery, Ala., weekend weather/weekday reporter; KBIM-TV, Roswell, N.M., weathercaster; WHO-TV, Des Moines, weekend weather/fill-in talk show host.

Don Schwenneker

Weather training: Attended Drake University in Des Moines, earned certificate of broadcast meteorology, Mississippi State University. Holds AMS and NWA seals.

Weather idol or model: Willard Scott -- I loved to watch him. In 1993, I had the privilege of meeting him during a visit to my hometown. He took time with everybody he talked to and seemed to genuinely care about what those people said.

Were you a weather geek as a child? Kind of. I remember always having to go to the basement during tornado warnings, and since I grew up in Iowa there were plenty. I was never really scared, just fascinated.

How do you feel when you receive credit or blame for the weather? Blame or credit comes with the job. We're in marketing, not production.

Best weather call? I predicted rain on my wedding day six months out. Sure enough, it rained. I'm told that's good luck and it has been so far! (Do you think my wife will read this?)

Biggest miss? Too many to count. Seriously, during my first month on air, the forecast was for sunshine and temps in the 70s. Around 2 p.m., a shower popped up in the Iowa countryside. It couldn't have been more than 10 miles wide and lasted about 15 minutes. After it was over, I received an angry phone call from a viewer who had just painted his deck. He was livid. I felt terrible and offered to come over and help him repaint it. He said no thanks and apologized for his comments. He just needed to vent.

Forecasting -- art or science? I think forecasting is an art based on science. All weather people get pretty much the same information from the same place. It's how a meteorologist interprets that information, with the various nuances, that determines what the forecast is.

If science, how accurate should viewers expect you to be? I think we should be pretty accurate through tonight and tomorrow's forecast. At least 90 percent or better.

Vacation ruined by weather, blame? Vacations are what you make of them. Most of mine are visiting with family or friends whom I haven't seen for a long time, and I can do that if it's sunny or raining.

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