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How to become......

a meteorologist

Employed by the Met Office Nottingham alumna Helen Willetts can often be seen on our TV screens broadcasting and forecasting across all the main domestic BBC channels. She first became interested in meteorology whilst studying A level geography at high school. 

“I used to envy people who knew what they wanted to do in life. I never knew at all,” says meteorologist and forecaster Helen Willetts.

Helen Willetts

I knew I liked the weather and was good at physics but I never thought about forecasting. I thought I’d probably do a PhD and go into some sort of weather research. I remember seeing a video made by the forecaster Suzanne Charlton. I thought it looked interesting but I never thought I could do that. 

“My Nottingham degree certainly catapulted me into meteorologically and the Met Office. It gave me the confidence to forge my career in my chosen field and I’m grateful for that.

“But as far as being a forecaster and broadcaster I think I was just in the right place at the right time. I was working at the Met Office in Cardiff and my boss said he thought I ought to go for the opportunity to be a forecaster and so I fell into it and then fell into broadcasting with the BBC.”

On joining the Met Office in February 1994, Helen began a five-month forecaster training course at the Met Office college. In July 1994 she moved to Cardiff Weather Centre and from April 1995 she appeared as a forecaster on BBC Television and Radio in Wales. In October 1997, having successfully completed her final training, she transferred to the BBC Weather Centre in London to work on BBC News 24.

“I enjoy my job and 90% of it is behind the scenes. My two minutes on screen is the result of a lot of hard work. Although the Met office HQ in Exeter prepares a lot of our graphics for us we still have to do a lot of preparation work and then broadcast the information live, so you have to be thinking on your feet.”

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