GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)- It’s hard to believe March is already nearing its end! Where has the time gone? Before we make our way into April, we want to highlight a special holiday. March 23, 2022, was World Meteorological Day, which commemorates the establishment of the World Meteorological Organization! What better way to celebrate than by highlighting a beloved meteorologist in West Michigan, who just so happens to also be an eightWest host!

This week on eightWest backstage, Terri DeBoer answers fun questions about her journey to becoming a meteorologist, recalls fond memories and more. Read along in the Q&A below:

How long have you been a meteorologist?

I’ve been a meteorologist for 30-years! When I finished my Meteorology Training and earned the American Meteorological Society’s Television Seal of Approval, I became the first woman in the state of Michigan to earn that certification.

When did your interest in meteorology begin?

My dad was in the Air Force, and we lived in Missouri when I was in Kindergarten. Missouri is part of “Tornado Alley” and we lived in a trailer park, which is very vulnerable during tornadoes. I remember being terrified of tornado warnings, which happened frequently in our area. That fear gave me huge respect and fascination of the weather. When it came time to specialize my career, I started taking classes in meteorology and LOVED IT!

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is helping people plan for the weather and how it will impact them. As the Daybreak meteorologist, I love being the first forecast most people hear every day, and helping them get themselves and their families ready for the weather conditions they will face!

I have always loved going to schools to talk to students- especially elementary school students- about the weather!  More than a decade ago, I worked with one of our senior producers to create what we call the “Weather Experience”.  We invited school groups into the station for an entertaining and informational program, which highlighted West Michigan’s ever-changing weather and taught these students about the dynamics of how the weather evolves.  We showed them lightning safety (using a lightning ball) and also showcased a “tornado machine”! The program was incredibly popular and revolutionary at the time!  We are currently still doing a version of this program, but it has become virtual over the past two years.

Out of all seasons, which is your favorite and least favorite to forecast?

I love forecasting in Michigan because we get all four seasons. While I’m not a huge fan of driving in snow, I love the process of forecasting big snow events, because it’s such a challenge!

Every meteorologist has a weather experience they’ll never forget. What’s yours?

The most memorable event I helped forecast and cover was the Derecho of 1998. It was one of the highest impact weather events in recent history, generating winds of more than 130 mph in parts of West Michigan. The damage was devastating; thousands of people were without power for days.

What are some common silly questions or comments you receive about the weather?

I think it’s funny when people “blame us” for the weather, or get upset when the weather isn’t what they hope or want it to be! I always say “I’m in retail, not manufacturing.”

If you could give any future meteorologists reading this any advice, what would you like to share?

My advice for future meteorologists is to study as much math and science as possible.  Weather forecasting is reliant on high-level scientific principles, using Thermodynamics, Physics, Statistics, Computer Modeling, and Geography.