‘A new science’

AMHERST – Planning a trip in March? Be warned. March 2018 could be very stormy, said Rob Carolan – who should know.

Carolan is president and chief meteorologist of Hometown Forecast Services in Nashua. He and his crew provide forecasting and severe weather warnings to clients that include Boston-Manchester Airport, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Bloomberg Radio and the cities of Nashua, Portsmouth and Manchester, as well as on-air weather broadcasting services to more than 50 radio stations across the United States and the Caribbean.

Carolan recently gave a slide show at the Amherst Town Library, using graphs and charts to show the complexities of modern-day weather forecasting.

Ancient Babylonians used cloud formations and astronomy. Today’s meteorology is a new science that has come a long way since the 1930s, when the field exploded, Carolan said, after “pilots began flying into things they didn’t know about” and people were getting killed.

Now, weather forecasters use computer models and apply the principles of fluid dynamics and thermodynamics.

But meteorology is still far from an exact science, and getting it wrong can be very humbling, Carolan told his audience at his Jan. 26 presentation.

“It’s a very new science,” he said, and there is a lot of instinct involved in forecasting.

With that caveat, he made a few forecasts: Groundhog Day was going to usher in more cold and snowy weather. And from February through early April there could be above-normal snowfall.

For a meteorologist March, any March, is exciting, “the most interesting month, a really cool month, weather-wise,” he said.

And so is another transition month – October. In 1991, during the last week in October we saw “the perfect storm,” and on Oct. 29, 2012 Hurricane Sandy laid waste to parts of New York City and the New Jersey Shore.

Carolan graduated from Lyndon State College in Vermont with a bachelor of science degree in meteorology. He never wanted to be a television weatherman – it isn’t creative, he said, because “the point of their jobs is to lead viewers to the next commercial.”

He was equally dismissive of National Weather Service forecasting – “they can’t get fired.”

Along with weather forecasting, meteorological scientists can also specialize in forensic meteorology, for clients who need to know the weather at the time a crime occurred, for instance, or consultive meteorology – for cities that need to know how much road salt to buy for the winter.

During the question and answer session, people asked about climate change, and Carolan said he gets annoyed when people point to this or that occurrence to show global warming is happening, or not happening.

On the other hand, this planet is like a terrarium, he said, and if carbon dioxide keeps building up, we are in trouble.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at

673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

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