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Sabrina Lee – University of Reading

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  • Weather forecasting for the BBC

Sabrina Lee

Climate curiosity

As a teenager Sabrina Lee was often curious about the weather, atmosphere and climate. How does it all work? Why does it rain? Why is the sky blue? met-sabrina-lee

During her search for universities Sabrina attended a Visit Day within the Department of Meteorology at Reading, a hub of knowledge and research in one of the world's largest academic communities of climate and weather scientists specialising in the natural environment.

Sabrina's experience visiting the Department left her determined to secure a place to study an undergraduate degree at Reading and start answering some of her burning questions. She was later offered a place to study which she grabbed.

The Department of Meteorology at Reading is the UK's only dedicated university meteorology department, providing Sabrina with an ideal environment to dive into key themes of meteorology and climate.

“The Department of Meteorology has small cohorts which helped me foster good relationships with fellow students and staff. Modules such as weather forecasting and presenting, weather and climate fundamentals, synoptic meteorology and cloud physics were really useful to my learning. Some days I spent more time on my calculator than my mobile phone!"

Meteorology students can choose this module on weather forecasting, which involves practical classes and presentations to gain a full green screen experience.

Opportunities outside the classroom  

As an aspiring weather presenter Sabrina was keen to gain further experience on top of her studies.

“During my time at Reading I co-founded an online weather page called ReadingUniWeather (RUWeather). My friends and I would present outdoor weather forecasts and upload them online for students to watch. I also wrote for the student newspaper, "Spark", and helped set up weather forecasts on the student radio, "Junction 11". In addition, I was given the opportunity to work on a paid project looking at wind turbine generation."

As a student on the MMet Meteorology and Climate with a Year in Oklahoma Sabrina spent her third year at the University of Oklahoma - an experience that was beyond valuable.

“My year studying in Oklahoma - tornado alley - was amazing! Here I got to see my first tornado, learn about American culture and make lifelong friends. I was also fortunate to have several television internships and presented some forecasts on live television.”

Established links with industry

The Department has long-established, excellent relationships with employers within the meteorological, climate and related sectors. Each year a student-led careers and networking day enables students to establish contacts within their chosen field.

It was here that Sabrina made an important connection.

“From the careers day I gained some work experience at a weather forecasting company called Meteogroup in London. Several months after this work experience I gained a full-time job and this really helped kick-start my forecasting career.”

Lights, cameras, action

Sabrina joined BBC Wales in 2019 and is now presenting the weather to thousands of people each day.

“It's a great feeling to be back home communicating my forecasts to a large audience. I try to add how the weather will impact people into my forecasts. For example, I don't want to just say there is mist and fog...instead I would try to say that because there is mist and fog, this will reduce visibility and as a result people should take care and perhaps add some extra time to their journeys.”

On what her daily routine normally involves;

“The first thing I do on my shift is to analyse weather models. I then write a script for radio and build my TV graphics. When it comes to television, some may not be aware that I don't have an autocue, and that somebody is counting in my ear to give me timings.

 I also frequently switch between the television and radio studios. When I am off-air I am usually checking the latest observations, so I have up to date information for my next set of bulletins.”

Sabrina is thankful to the Department of Meteorology at Reading for their "support and guidance" in helping her to reach these goals.

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