On the Job: Meteorologist

Kathy Sabine has been analyzing and reporting the weather in Colorado for decades.

Photo by Jeff Nelson

If you’re one of those people who watch a weather forecast and think, “I could do that,” think again. Kathy Sabine, who has worked as a meteorologist for Denver’s 9News for more than 25 years, covers the 2 to 11 p.m. shift and does five newscasts a day—at 4, 5, 6, 9, and 10 p.m.—which, she guesses, is more than any other meteorologist in the country. She also works for KOSI and KYGO radio, does weather chats on Facebook Live, posts forecasts on Twitter, and is constantly corresponding with fans. She has won multiple Emmys, appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and still finds time to do speaking engagements and raise her three kids. We chatted with Sabine about her fast-paced life and getting her work done, rain or shine.

How did you get started in the business?
“I’ve always had a fascination with weather because I grew up on Donner Pass in Northern California where the winters are extreme. My first internship was at the NBC station in San Luis Obispo, California. I started behind the scenes— doing anything I could to learn about television. At night, after my shift was over, I would set up the camera and practice making tapes. I kept putting the tapes on the news director’s desk, and badgered him until he gave me a shot.”

Do you create your own forecasts?
“Definitely. I’m a scientist, so I do my own interpretation of the forecast models, maps, atmosphere, environment. The forecast that I present on TV—nobody is telling me what to say.”

Is Colorado weather challenging?
“It’s a weatherperson’s dream to forecast in Colorado because storms can come at you from any direction. When I started, I got a quick course in hail, tornadoes, and flooding. I was the lead storm chaser back then, and within two years two tornadoes touched down right in front of me.”

Is it hard to deliver a forecast?
“The TV part is easy. It’s the preparation that’s hard. We pore over forecast models, radar, and satellite images, study weather instruments and viewer pictures, analyze surface charts, put the graphics together, and try to create a show that’s interesting. When we do that well, we’re helping people dress their kids properly, preventing grandpa from driving in a snowstorm, saving a Boy Scout camping trip from a big storm. It can be life-saving. There is nothing more rewarding than that.”