Forecast: A bright future for graduates of WCSU’s meteorology program
Three WCSU meteorology graduates deliver the weather at top local television station
New Haven’s WTNH Storm Team 8 meteorologists Gil Simmons, Sam Kantrow and Quincy Vagell have much in common: they all grew up in hardy New England, they all chased storms as kids, and they all graduated from Western Connecticut State University.
The most seasoned meteorologist of the three, Simmons has worked at the television station for nearly 11 years delivering the morning and noon editions of the weather. Before attending Western in the 1990s as a communication and theatre arts major, the Killingly native spent six years in the Marine Corps. Simmons said the practical knowledge and hands-on experience offered in the university’s meteorology courses he took helped to secure his dream job.
“We have to have reasoning. A meteorologist should be like a lawyer proving a case. I should be able to point to why I make a decision,” said Simmons, who has hired at least a dozen interns from Western over the years because they are confident, knowledgeable and prepared for the weather business.
WCSU’s Bachelor of Science in Meteorology program is the only such program in the state and one of only a few in the Northeast. With a foundation of courses in mathematics, computer science, physics, astronomy and earth science, combined with meteorology, the program prepares students for television and radio weathercasting, operational forecasting, or for teaching or research in the atmospheric sciences.
A 2009 graduate of the WCSU meteorology program, Sam Kantrow joined Storm Team 8 in February 2011, as a weather producer and Web meteorologist for the weekend editions of “Good Morning Connecticut.” The Hamden native said he learned much about the “green screen” and perfected his skills of online weather predictions while at the university. The demonstration tape that got him hired was made in the WCSU Weather Center.
Quincy Vagell, also a 2009 meteorology graduate, joined the station in 2012 as executive producer of WXedge.com and Web meteorologist. He said his four years at the WCSU Weather Center had a tremendous impact on his career. “A lot of schools don’t have that and it’s an invaluable experience,” he said. “The best thing about the WCSU meteorology program is learning the science behind meteorology and being able to make a forecast on my own.”
Simmons said that very experience is why he turns to Western when hiring interns. Simmons and his weather team also visit the university with their weather vehicle and Simmons has spoken at the university’s Tri-State Weather Conference, an event that gathers meteorologists from all over the region.
“On a Weather Geek scale of 1 to 5, I’m a 5.1,” Simmons said. “Quincy is someone I can talk to. It makes it more interesting when you can hold a conversation with meteorological backing. He’s a weather geek, too.”
Simmons said that while there are many weather personalities, he believes that having the education and skills behind a forecast is what puts meteorologists ahead of the curve.
“I think accuracy is experience,” he said. Despite their similar backgrounds, the three meteorologists occasionally get into a scrap about the accuracy of a forecast. As far as predicating a winner in these situations, Simmons said the winner is always the same: “Mother Nature.”
Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.