Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Jesse Beyer - Global Edmonton's youngest-ever chief meteorologist

In July, Jesse Beyer took over as the chief meteorologist at Global Edmonton – and, with his recently earned certificate from Mississippi State University, the 27-year-old is officially the youngest person to take on that role in the station’s history.

But Beyer (Radio and Television ’10) isn’t nearly as green as his birth date might suggest.

The Saskatoon native has already logged time at 4 different TV stations across the Prairies. And thanks to the vast improvements weather technology has enjoyed in recent years, Beyer comes to his new position trained on the very latest the meteorology world has to offer.

So when you catch him co-anchoring the Early News at 5 and the News Hour at 6 each weekday, Beyer will be putting that expertise to use while building the most important thing a weather personality can have: his audience’s trust.

He recently spoke with techlife about his new post, how forecast technology has changed, and why meteorologists still matter in the age of the smartphone.

If you go down to coffee row, everyone talks about the weather. Whether they got enough rain, or whether they got too much rain. Hail damage. Tornadoes. Especially if you have crops to think about. Growing up [in Saskatchewan], that was family discussion at suppertime: whether or not you could get the crops off the field, or seeded in the spring. It was setting a foundation that I didn’t even know at the time.

While the news anchors are talking with the assignment desk and reporters, I kind of live on weather island. I put together my own thing from government or public weather models. And, like the anchors, I also do promo work, and I have to be out in the community. You have to play 2 parts every day: the science part and the personality part.

I kind of live on weather island.

I legitimately feel bad if I’m flip-flopping between scenarios: “Is this air mass going to migrate far north enough to get us?” There are times where it could be close. You have to wait until that system actually starts moving, or until the thunderstorm actually fires up, to start tracking them. I feel bad when I’m [off]. That makes a difference if someone is going out on the water, or whether they bring an umbrella to their children’s soccer game.

I’m coming in at a great time. I’ve talked to other people who’ve done this job for years, and hearing that they used to do it without the internet – it just blows my mind. The advancements in the past 20 years are amazing. Lead times for tornadoes used to be within seconds and now it’s within tens of minutes for a few cases.

Social media is great for severe weather. There’s only so much you can pick up on radar. But when you have people saying, “I live in Bentley, and here’s a picture from my backyard right now,” I can see exactly what is happening. I can tell whether there’s a base lowering out of it. I can tell whether there’s rotation at the surface.

Being younger, I think it might be a little more relatable for younger viewers to see someone like me on the television. But I also feel like I have to prove myself a little bit more to gain credibility with some of the more mature viewers, who think they’re getting a forecast from some young punk. I’m going to wear this for as long as I can, because there’s going to be a point where I won’t be the young guy anymore. I might as well enjoy it.

This is a great area for a weatherperson. It has a little bit of everything. You have really warm, dry air masses moving up. You also have the Pacific influence and moisture coming in over the Rockies. You have Arctic highs. You have contrasting air masses that come together. There’s always something to look for in Alberta – everything from tornadoes to blizzards.

As told to Michael Hingston


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