An Interview with Mike Alger!

This is an interview with a meteorologist named Mike Alger, Chief Meteorologist, with KTVN Channel 2 News in Reno, NV. I’m interested in weather and for our 4th quarter project we had to do an interview. I chose to do this topic because it’s a topic of interest to me.

Lillian: What Weather Tools do you use?

Mike AIger: I use a lot of weather tools. Some of them are satellites which take pictures of the weather systems as they come in. I use a lot of weather stations all around the country to track the weather as it comes in. I use radar imagery, which can show me where it’s raining, and give me an idea of the winds. And I use people’s eyeballs… which is a funny way of saying I get eyewitness reports from weather watchers around the region, which also helps to track the weather. But probably the most important tools I use are computer models, which take data from weather balloons and they build 3-dimensional models of the atmosphere, and can predict what will happen in the future.

Lillian: How do you track the sun?

Mike AIger: I really don’t track the sun. The sun crosses our sky in a very predictable manner, so just by knowing the time and date, there’s always a way of knowing where the sun is.

Lillian: How do you track the moon?

Mike Alger: It’s the same with the moon. It also orbits the earth in a very predictable fashion.

Lillian: How do you predict the weather?

Mike Alger:  I’ll refer you back to your first question. Using all the tools I talked about, especially the computer models, I am able to determine where and when the atmosphere will be right for making it rainy or sunny.

Lillian: Why does lightning strike trees?

Mike Alger: Lightning is a very strong discharge of electricity, and electricity is essentially lazy. It wants to go to the ground by the easiest pathway possible. Trees conduct electricity better than air does, so hitting a tree makes a shorter pathway to the ground.

Lillian: Did you ever have interest in weather?

Mike Alger: I’ve always had an interest in science, and weather is a science. So in that manner, I’ve always had an interest in weather.

 Lillian: Why does the hail make a strange noise?

Mike Alger: Hail is made of balls of ice, so when it falls from the sky, it makes a louder sound than rain or snow. It’s similar to if you dropped small rocks on your roof from way up high.

Lillian: When did you decide to be a meteorologist?

Mike Alger: I decided to become a meteorologist when I was in my late 20s. I was a geologist before that.

Lillian: Why does a thunderstorm sometimes shut off electronics?

Mike Alger: Since thunderstorms have lightning, and lightning is made up of huge amounts of electricity, whenever a lightning bolt hits a power line, it can overload the system and cause circuit breakers to shut off the power.

Lillian: Why aren’t there any tornadoes in Reno, NV?

Mike Alger: There are two main reasons: First, we don’t typically get the super-cell thunderstorms needed for classic tornado development, mainly because our air isn’t wet enough. Second, all the mountains around us disrupt the flow and creates turbulence which breaks up the spinning motion before the tornado can fully form.