Predicting Play Days

Robert Carroll demonstrates how a TV2 weather cast voiceover is usually recorded, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in a Franklin Hall audio lab.

Erin Zaranec

One thing seems to make facing the bitter cold at the start of spring semester a little more bearable: The hope of snow days. Somehow, weeks of bundling up and trudging to class with bright red noses seem worth it when we are granted one or two days off because of winter weather.

However, it can often be hard to tell when the university will cancel classes and when we should prepare to trudge through the snow.

Thanks to one Kent State student, a thorough weather report is only clicks away.

Robert Carroll is on track to graduate from two different colleges with two different degrees. He is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in public communication and is also a junior at Mississippi State University, where he is working toward a degree in geoscience and meteorology.

“I have always been interested in weather and how it works since as far [back] as I can remember. I really began to be proactive about pursuing it as a career in high school. I started my own weather forecasts every Friday on the announcements … and had a mass text message system where people got daily weather forecasts during the week,” Carroll said.

Carroll has also been posting weather updates on his Facebook page since 2009, when he was still a high-school student. Since coming to college, though, those posts have become a lot more popular.

At least a handful of comments can be seen on each of Carroll’s weather updates, ranging from community members commenting on weather conditions to college students hoping for a day off.

Sophomore marketing major Ronald Exline is one of those students.

“I enjoy Bobby Carroll’s forecasting because he is very knowledgeable and seems to always have inside scoop on campus closings. Exline said, “He has definitely helped me to prepare to the weather that is to come in days ahead.”

Carroll said that most of his snow day inquiries come from Kent State and University of Akron students. At last check, his snow day and delay predictions had been 90-95% accurate.

Big publicity came for Carroll after an email correspondence with Gregg Floyd, senior vice president of finance and administration, turned into a 40-minute phone conversation about school cancellations and the weather on Feb. 4.

“I had emailed Gregg Floyd, just asking about the regulations regarding school cancellations and we ended up talking on the phone… I ended up telling him things about the weather that he didn’t even know, so that was fun,” Carroll said.

Although Carroll had no influence on the decision to delay school the following day, he said it was interesting to hear how the decision to make cancellations was made. Executive protocol meetings are formed to discuss the weather conditions and the safety hazards surrounding those conditions, of which Carroll got to receive the inside scoop.

Carroll broadcasts the weather every Thursday morning on TV2’s FlashCast. He is also a member of the American Meteorological Society, the National Weather Association and is a certified storm spotter with the National Weather Service via the SKYWARN program.

He hopes to eventually work as a chief meteorologist and then make the transition to become a college professor.

“I knew for sure in high school that this is what I want to do forever — keep people safe from severe weather,” Carroll said.

Contact Erin Zaranec at [email protected]