Jeff Berardelli is no stranger to severe weather. After all, he's been a meteorologist at the CBS affiliates in Fort Lauderdale-Miami (WFOR-Ch. 4) and New York City (WCBS-Ch. 2), where he's forecasted hurricanes, blizzards and storms.
Now he's brought that experience to WPEC-Ch. 12, having recently joined the team as a severe weather expert appearing on the 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m. weekday newscasts. We caught up with the West Palm Beach resident and newlywed.
Q: Are there any differences between forecasting weather in the Fort Lauderdale-Miami area and West Palm Beach?
A: It's a little more active up here. Our viewing area is more expansive to the west. All of Miami-Dade and Broward counties is 20 miles wide and then you hit the Everglades and you are done.
We go all the way from Boca Raton straight up to Sebastian. We go west all the way to Lake Okeechobee. The extent of the viewing area is more inland. Every mile you move north of South Florida, you get into more synoptic weather (large-scale weather patterns) and we see more synoptic weather than in Miami. There is more to do here. We get fronts there that sometimes don't make it to Miami.
Q: What brought you to WPEC from Fort Lauderdale-Miami, where you were a weekend meteorologist?
A: I have more responsibility at this station. I wanted a job where I could really help make a difference in the weather department. The job up here requires me to work harder and really use my brain, it requires me to be more creative … I have that authority at the station. Whereas in Miami, I was a weekend meteorologist [and] I was more of a worker than [someone who]I had the ability to change things.
Q: How has your weather delivery and forecasting changed with your new job?
A: I am including more street-level tracking so people have an idea when a heavy rain storm will reach them. It's a little more micro-casting, figuring out the time of arrival of localized storms … It's not linear forecasting. When you forecast in a place like New York City, storms are more stable and generally move in a straight line. Here, the weather is more random, storms move erratically and you have to be very skilled at identifying tiny nuances and boundaries. A difference of 1 or 2 degrees in temperature or moisture or slight shift in wind speed or direction can make a minute-to-minute difference between sun or rain. What makes it challenging is that it can pour in downtown West Palm Beach, and in Palm Beach Gardens it can be completely sunny.
Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to be a TV meteorologist?
A: The first thing is, are you willing to move, are you willing to suck it up? In this business, you are going to be required to work a lot of holidays, you are going to be required to work overnight shifts. You have to be prepared to relocate and be prepared to work odd shifts. Even the most experienced people in TV have to wake up at 2 a.m.
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