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WeatherWords: An interview with Ryan Hoke, WAVE 3 Meteorologist and Storm Chaser

What’s your earliest weather memory?

My earliest weather memory was the January 1994 winter storm in Louisville. While I don’t remember much since I was a toddler, I do remember a vivid image of stepping out into the snow in our front yard and it being nearly up to my waist! You don’t forget something like that.

 

Have you ever had a frightening weather experience?

I remember being absolutely terrified of severe weather when I was a child, ironically. When I was a small kid in the mid ‘90s I remember one hail storm that destroyed our house’s siding. During that storm at night my mom had me in the basement with WAVE 3 News blaring over the TV upstairs so we could hear. I was petrified of how loud the hail and wind were outside, and each rumble of thunder shortened my breath. That night cemented my interest in weather, though, as the calming voices of WAVE 3 News meteorologists was something I latched onto. Through the years, I found the career of a meteorologist to be even more appealing once I saw how much technology, science, and communication that it entailed!

What’s your favorite weather movie?

I used to LOVE the movie Twister as a kid. Like, absolutely love it. Once I began storm chasing in high school I realized very quickly how laughably inaccurate it is, farcical. I still think it’s a fun movie to watch, but these days I can’t get enough of Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. That movie has me in stitches every time!

What’s the biggest misconception people have about the weather?

There is a huge segment of the population these days that consumes forecasts exclusively from the built-in weather app on a smartphone. The misconception is that this smoothed out, model-driven weather information is all that’s needed to plan a day or stay safe in severe weather. Obviously not everyone is a weather fanatic, so they think the stock weather app that comes with their device is good enough. That’s simply not the case. Small-scale weather influencers like topography, outflow boundaries from nearby storms, and urban heat island effects are not handled well by these stock weather apps and routinely lead to an inaccurate forecast, especially hour-by-hour. I always tell folks to get their forecast from a human meteorologist, or get an app that’s powered by one like our own WAVE 3 News weather app. I spend hours a week typing hour-by-hour and 10-day forecast numbers in manually for our area so that our app and website users have a more accurate forecast. Computers and models simply aren’t as accurate as humans yet and it’ll take decades before the tide turns the other way.

 

Who is your weather hero?

My weather hero is John Belski, who retired from WAVE 3 News in 2010. John was one of the first meteorologists I ever spoke to as a kid and I visited him a couple times at the station while in high school. He taught me how to make weather fun and informative, often pointing out weather phenomena and folklore that captivated me. John and Kevin Harned (WAVE 3 News current chief meteorologist) mentored me through my teenage years and my relationship with them and others at WAVE 3 News led to my eventual career here at the station. Louisville has a fantastic bunch of meteorologists and I’m lucky enough to have grown up in their shadow!

 

Louisville native Ryan Hoke joined the WAVE 3 News Storm Tracking Team in 2013. He’s a self-professed tech geek who makes weather websites and works for a storm chasing tour company. A graduate of Mississippi State University, Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in geosciences with an emphasis in professional and broadcast meteorology.

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