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Chasing storms on the road to a life of meteorology

Lauren Waldhuter, Friday August 22, 2014 - 11:21 EST
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Jon Fisher is a junior forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology in Adelaide. - ABC

If you are a regular listener to the South Australian Country Hour you'd probably be able to name a couple of people from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Listeners hear from them multiple times a day on the radio, as they give their most recent predictions about what's happening in the sky.

But rarely do we get to hear more about the forecasters themselves.

Jon Fischer is a new addition to SA's meteorology team.

He studied oceanography at university before completing a graduate course with the Bureau of the Meteorology in Melbourne, which is the only way to become a meteorologist.

He says his interest stemmed from more than just a basic interest in the weather.

"I have my parents to thank for introducing me to becoming a meteorologist... they thought if I stare out the window at the clouds all day, I will either fail or become a meteorologist."

The 24 year old says there are more young people getting involved in meteorology, but he was still one of the youngest in his course.

"It's quite hands on with weather models and there is quite a lot of computing and stuff that we deal with, which probably does appeal to the younger generation.

"We have a wide range of backgrounds coming into meteorology, pilots, school teachers and all sorts that I went through the course with."

Before landing at the weather bureau in Adelaide Jon took his interest in weather patterns that one step further.

He has been a storm chaser in the United States for the past couple of years with a fellow meteorologist friend.

"Basically using our knowledge and doing a bit of forecasting as well.

"We hired a car and drove all over the plains states, so anywhere from Texas right up to North Dakota chasing storms and racking up plenty of miles on the car."

He says over two weeks last year they travelled about 12,000 kilometres and had plenty of long days.

"We do get tornadoes here in Australia, but some of the really big ones are fairly exclusive to that part of the world and so we went over there and observed the storms at a safe distance."

But his safe distance is probably different to others....just a few kilometres away from the storm.

"The fastest wind speeds on earth are observed in tornadoes, so it is really impressive to see...awe inspiring."

He says now he is back in Australia he is looking forward to working at the Bureau in Adelaide and hopefully moving up the ranks to be able to do the all important Country Hour weather cross.

"Unfortunately we don't have all the answers, but we try our best and it's one of those jobs where you gain a lot of experience and the more times you are wrong you learn from those instances.

"And eventually I will hopefully have the fame of the senior forecasters on the Country Hour one day."


© ABC 2014

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