Star forecaster shows true colors


Published: Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

Stephanie Abrams may be known around North America as one of the rising stars on The Weather Channel, but she hasn't forgotten where she came from.

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During her keynote address to the Society of Professional Journalists Saturday night, The Weather Channel meteorologist Stephanie Abrams credited her time at the University of Florida with helping her make a successful career choice.

Karen Voyles/The Gainesville Sun

Facts

Sun cartoonist wins award

  • The Gainesville Sun editorial cartoonist, Jake Fuller, won first place in the Society of Professional Journalists 2007 Florida Awards of Excellence. The award was announced Saturday night during a banquet at the Clarion Gainesville Hotel West. Fuller has been an editorial cartoonist at The Sun since 1992.

Abrams, a University of Florida graduate, was the keynote speaker at the Society of Professional Journalists' Florida Awards of Excellence Banquet Saturday night. She showed her orange and blue spirit as soon as she took the podium. Abrams gave the crowd a Gator Chomp while they gave her a welcoming round of applause.

While working on her bachelor's degree in geography at UF, Abrams took an introductory course in meteorology and was hooked.

"The more I learned about the weather, the more I knew that this is exactly what I wanted to do, exactly the career for me," Abrams said.

After graduating from UF in 1999 with a minor in mathematics, she enrolled in the meteorology program at Florida State University. In 2003, a year after graduating from FSU, Abrams was working for The Weather Channel.

During her first year, Abrams discovered that being in the right place at the right time can propel a career unexpectedly. First she was asked to fill in on a Tallahassee television station for someone who had lost interest in providing weekend forecasts.

"I was doing the weekends when another station in town starting showing a mug shot of the morning weather guy at our station - some kind of drunk driving arrest, I guess - so they asked me if I wanted to fill in in the mornings."

A year after being hired by The Weather Channel, Abrams was among the meteorologists awed by the record-setting 2004 hurricane season. She told a roomful of journalists gathered in a banquet room of the Clarion Gainesville West Hotel that television cannot always portray the enormity of extreme weather.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was "like a movie set. It was too awful to be real."

She brought along snapshots she had taken at various assignments, including the one of a thermometer registering 113 degrees in New York City lying on a sidewalk alongside the still-raw egg she was attempting to fry.

And there was the story about Jim Cantore, a fellow Weather Channel meteorologist who remains envious because, as a rookie, Abrams got to report from the eye wall of a hurricane. It was an experience the man with a passion for extreme weather reporting has never been able to do.

"This has been such an exciting job," Abrams told The Sun. "I can't imagine doing anything else."

Karen Voyles can be reached at 352-359-5656 or kvoyles@gmail.com.

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