University of Georgia, GA
Q&A with Merry Matthews
What inspired you to become a meteorologist?
I'm a very inquisitive person by nature. I have an intense yearning to understand how things work. That was definitely the case with weather but a big and final push into that area of study in college revolved around my spirituality as well. I believe there is a real and present correlation between science and spirituality. Atmospheric science is more than fascinating. The ever present homeostatic tendencies of the earth's atmosphere is what we see play out as "weather". It's pretty cool and never gets old!
What is your most memorable weather experience?
Probably the historic outbreak of violent, long-tracked tornadoes in the southeast on April 27, 2011. I was living in the TN Valley at the time (Huntsville, AL). I was out of the business for a brief period of time as well so I wasn't active in the field during this severe weather event, however, I still followed the weather and model trends and knew what a harrowing day it would be. When the day finally arrived, watching it all unfold was indescribable. Sirens were going off non-stop all day. In total, 324 people were killed across 6 states as a result of this super outbreak. It changed the way folks in the southeast respond and react to weather entirely. I got back into the business in this particular market the following year. This event left many, particularly in Alabama, with an intense anxiety for severe weather and rightfully so. Now more than ever, the people needed Meteorologists that could warn accurately. Just saying there was a threat for tornadoes, even a low-end threat, sent a wave of panic out to out the viewers. I had to learn quickly how to warn without scaring, how to explain the difference between brief spin-up tornadoes and violent long-tracked tornadoes. It was a delicate balance that was hard to obtain right away. It was a challenge for all Mets in the area for years after the outbreak of 2011.
Outside of weather what are your hobbies and life interests?
I love to be outdoors with my husband. We like to fish and camp and now that we have our two sons, I’m sure there will be more of that in the future. Soon enough, I will begin finessing my skills with the ol' fly fishing rod. Pretty stoked! Stay tuned. I'll let you know how it works out. Hopefully the two of us don't end up in a fight ;-)
Besides your parents who has influenced you the most in your life?
Probably Joyce Meyer. As an imperfect Christian, I'm always looking for ways to improve my spiritual maturity or ways to keep growing and getting stronger. Out of hardships from my childhood, there were obvious problem areas I struggled with. Areas where I felt my circumstances were too rare for anyone to understand or relate. This often gave me a feeling of intense loneliness. Then came Joyce! She comes from a place of total humility. She has shared some of the same experiences as myself. Her sharing her journey has definitely impacted my own in a huge way! So, a big shout out to Joyce Meyer! Thanks, Lady!