Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Groundhog Day at the Tennessee Aquarium

The following post was contributed by Chattanooga Chuck, the Tennessee Aquarium's lead long-range forecaster. Chuck lives in Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari and enjoys spending time greeting Aquarium guests and mingling with the other mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebratesbutterflies and fish that live in River Journey and Ocean Journey.
I'm just coming out of hibernation right now, so imagine my surprise when Susie Grant, a senior educator at the Aquarium, said we were going to take a trip to Atlanta, GA. "Have yams will travel," I thought. I never imagined I would be visiting the CNN studios. The ride didn't seem very long. I had a chance to doze a little on the way. A couple of my pals joined me. Blinky, the screech owl and Harry the tarantula. Many folks don't know it, but groundhogs like me aren't the only animals that have weather predicting prowess. That is, if you believe the folklore.

We got to meet CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras and CNN national correspondent / anchor Gary Tuchman. They're probably two of the nicest people you'll ever meet. It was pretty cool hanging out with them. We even had tour groups stopping by to peek in through the windows to wave and say hello.

You can watch the interview here. Fun animal facts and weather history. I might have paid attention while I was on the set, but Susie kept handing me kale, yams and bananas. So, after sleeping most of the day before, I was ready for chow.

Good thing I have a laptop. (Don't tell anyone....but sometimes when the weather is nice I spend time watching the Aquarium's YouTube channel.)

Since Jacqui interviewed me, I asked if I could interview her. She graciously agreed. I'll admit, I'm no Mike Wallace. But I think you'll see that I'm one marmot who's not afraid to ask the tough questions.

Chuck: What’s the best thing about being a meteorologist for CNN?

Jeras: The best thing about being a meteorologist at CNN is that I get to talk about weather all over the country and the world, not just in one city or state. There is always extreme weather happening somewhere and it makes my job fun, exciting, and challenging every day.

Chuck: I always have trouble deciding my favorite season. Sometimes I'd like to have a little more winter, other times I think it would be nice to have an early spring. What’s your favorite season?

Jeras: My favorite season is fall. I love the outdoors and there is nothing better than a good bike ride, hike or run in the crisp fall air, looking at the changing leaf colors.

Chuck: Any memorable weather events you’ve covered?

Jeras: I’ve covered many memorable weather events in the 12 years I have worked at CNN. Some most notably, The EF5 tornado in Joplin, MO, Hurricane Katrina, and of course, the Groundhog Day Blizzard last year.

Chuck: I like yams. What’s your favorite vegetable?

Jeras: My favorite vegetable is asparagus. I also LOVE sweet corn in the summer, but I think that is technically a grain.

Chuck: Final question. Who’s a better meteorologist – You or Reynolds Wolf?

Jeras: Me or Reynolds?! Unfair question. Everyone I work with at CNN in the weather department is awesome. We all have our own strengths. We’re like a family. Reynolds always makes me laugh. He’s great! Plus, I’m darn sure we’re all better meteorologists than any rodent I might know… sorry Chuck

Oh well. You can learn about the Tennessee Aquarium's Storm Team of Animal Forecasters here and see which creatures actually do respond to weather changes to give us clues about what may be ahead.

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