Alumni CLASnotes Spring 2005

Alumni Spotlight

Stephanie Abrams

When Hurricane Jeanne was pounding Florida’s coastline last September, Weather Channel meteorologist and UF alumna Stephanie Abrams was literally in the eye of the storm. “I can remember the exact time, 12:20 am,” says Abrams. “I was standing outside our hotel in Port St. Lucie giving a live report and looked up and saw the moon shining through the clouds as the eye was passing over us. It was an amazing sight I’ll never forget.”

Abrams became unforgettable to millions of viewers during August and September as she crossed the state of Florida several times to cover five major storms. The 1999 geography graduate has worked at cable television’s only national all-weather network, The Weather Channel (TWC), since June 2003, but some of her most electrifying live television coverage started when Tropical Storm Bonnie hit the Florida panhandle in August 2004. “You have to love what you do, and that’s true for me,” says Abrams. “Even though I wasn’t getting a lot of sleep and eating only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, it didn’t seem like work to me.”

Weather-related phenomena have always interested Abrams, and she says her father shares this intrigue, having taken the family to Europe and Hawaii to view eclipses. Abrams grew up in Wellington, Florida, near West Palm Beach, and when she came to UF as a freshman, she knew she enjoyed science and mathematics but was not sure what career path to choose. She soon realized meteorology was a perfect fit. “I didn’t want to be on television and just forecast the weather. I wanted to learn the physics and math behind what was happening so I could explain how the weather works and how it affects everyone’s daily lives. I chose geography since it encompasses elements related to weather and climate.”

Stephanie Abrams

Stephanie Abrams on the Weather Channel

Meteorologist Stephanie Abrams has traded her rain poncho and galoshes for a winter coat, gloves, hat, scarves and heat sticks in her boots to cover the nation’s winter storms recently. “Growing up in South Florida, I’m a wimp when it comes to cold weather,” she says. So far this season, Abrams has covered the ice and snowstorms in New York and Atlanta, where The Weather Channel is based.

Abrams took several classes with Geography Professor Peter Waylen, who describes Abrams as one of his most curious students. “She visited during my office hours all the time, always inquisitive and sharp,” says Waylen. “In fact, we should ask Stephanie which she enjoys more—reporting in 60 mile per hour winds and rain and dodging flying aluminum siding—or taking one of my statistics exams.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in meteorology from Florida State University in 2002, she became the morning show meteorologist at WTXL, the ABC affiliate in Tallahassee, before landing her job at TWC in June 2003. Abrams is a member of the American Meteorology Society and served as president of the North Florida chapter from 2002– 2003.

During her coverage in the field, a camera crew and producer join Abrams. She says TWC insists on safety first and will often tell the group to get inside if conditions become too hazardous. “They never put us in danger. If the electricity is out, we can’t see the latest radar images, so they tell us to get back inside before it gets too bad.” Abrams recounts a moment during Hurricane Jeanne when she realized just how powerful and perilous winds can be. “We were in the hotel room and had the sliding glass door cracked about an half an inch so the satellite truck cables outside could be plugged in, and I heard this strange noise and realized a small nail had actually flown in that tiny opening.”

In November, Abrams enjoyed some warm, sunny Gainesville weather when she returned to UF to speak at the Fall Convocation ceremony, organized by CLAS. The event, originally scheduled for September, was postponed due to Hurricane Jeanne. Abrams’ talk, “Weathering College and Storming Into the Real World,” was the keynote address at the ceremony honoring outstanding UF undergraduates. “I love coming back to campus. Even though I do have a degree from that ‘other’ university in Florida, in my heart, I’ll always be a Gator!”

-- Allyson A. Beutke

Weather Channel Photo Courtesy of the Weather Channel
All Others Jane Dominguez

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Friday, 13-Aug-2010 14:22:20 EDT