The Meteorologist Taking D.C. Weather Forecasts By Storm

by Catherine Douglas Moran

Bill Kelly is on ABC7 News’ StormWatch7 Weather Team.

Bill Kelly is the chief meteorologist for ABC7 News’ weather team (Photo by Dave Sykes)

“Weather affects absolutely everybody, even if you’re somebody who doesn’t leave the house,” said ABC News’ StormWatch7 chief meteorologist Bill Kelly, who joined the team in October. “It still affects you because you’re running your heater and your heating bill gets higher.”

Kelly celebrates his 20-year work anniversary this summer.

The award-winning meteorologist found his passion in a geography class in 1994 when he wondered what happens when a cold front catches a warm front. That’s when “a bell rang,” he says. Kelly landed his first job in Eureka, California before graduating from California State University, Sacramento, and went on to get his meteorologist credentials at Mississippi State University.

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Previously, he worked in Columbus, Ohio; Sacramento, California; Phoenix, Arizona and Cincinnati, Ohio. D.C. weather forecasting requires understanding how the different nearby climates can affect the local weather, he says. With an average of 15 inches a year, D.

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C. does not usually get a lot of snow, but can face major storms when warm, moist air hits the water.

“Mother Nature has so much power and she’s going to do what she wants to do and ultimately our job is unique in that we predict the future,” Kelly explains. “Not many jobs do that. We try to do the best we can to get it into a range that is as accurate as possible.”

That accuracy starts each day from scratch. With his team, Kelly analyzes weather radar, temperatures, weather conditions farther north and five to seven computer models. Continually monitoring and tweaking throughout the day is the hardest part, he says. “The stuff on the air, telling the weather story, that’s fun.”

“If it’s a weather storm or thunderstorm, then it’s a serious tone, but the weather specifically is an area in which we can lighten people’s days up,” Kelly says. He geeks out over a lot of weather concepts: thunderstorms, lenticular clouds, snow rollers and plain old snow.

When asked if weather apps steal his viewers, Kelly said his job isn’t threatened. “What an app is not going to tell you are things like it’s going to be 42, but you’re still going to want your jacket even though 40 sounds warmer than it has been,” Kelly says. “But also have your sunglasses tomorrow, because there is going to be a lot of sun tomorrow. Not a cloud in the sky and, with all the snow still on the ground, the reflection rate is going to be very, very, very bright.”

Apps also lack the “personality stuff,” he added. His previous popular segments include him scaling up his forecast map thanks to a giant green climbing wall, turning a golf course into his weather green screen and paddling in front of a weather wall.

When not at work, Kelly can be found with his wife Jolene and their three daughters.

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