As three-year-old Tucker Antico (2011 Inly graduate and current Penn State senior), craned his neck to see the weather beacon atop the Old John Hancock Building in Boston, the 1950 poem went ‘round and ‘round in his head:
Steady blue, clear view
Flashing blue, clouds due
Steady red, rain ahead
Flashing red, snow instead
(Except in summer, when it means the Red Sox game has been canceled…)
“I really remember, even being that small, I used to check the beacon and then go around telling people what the weather was going to do,” Tucker recalls.
And, over the years, his passion for the weather continued to blossom: “In CH4, my teacher, Elsa Libby, used to cut out the weather forecasts from the newspaper and put them up in the classroom. A friend of mine and I used to plot the daily highs and lows. We did it for six months straight. We’d staple pieces of printer paper together and make these huge bar charts. Color-coded, of course. Totally legit.”
In Lower Elementary, Tucker joined the science committee and began to study the clouds. “I learned everything I could about the clouds. Some of the kids would say ‘oh look, it’s a serious cloud’ and I just had to correct them. ‘It’s not “serious,” it’s a “cirrus” cloud’, I’d say. I just couldn’t help it.”
Upper Elementary saw him preparing not only Tucker Trivia — a daily weather or science-based multiple choice question for his classmates (the answer to which would be revealed, by Tucker, at the end of each school day), but also, a presentation of his daily weather forecast. “I was really particular about my drawings. It was so important to me that they accurately depicted the weather,” he recounts.
In Middle School, Tucker, now working with actual weather models, would prepare a quick weather update for each daily meeting and his 7th grade internship (at the American Meteorological Society) and two 8th grade internships (Holly Hill Farm and Blue Hills Observatory) saw him delve even deeper into and learn even more about the science of weather and how weather can relate to other aspects of life, like agriculture.
By the time Tucker started at Boston College High School his love of the weather was undeniable. In his sophomore year, he began to run www.hinghamweather.com, succeeding his mentor, Penn State grad and current NBC10 weatherman, Michael Page, which he continued to do through his freshman year of college. He also began to publish weather forecasts via his Twitter feed (a particularly good storm forecast earning him credibility and followers) and, at his school principal’s request, Tucker began to email him weather summaries, which provided an overview of snow, ice, and secondary threats and served as a major input into snow day decisions.
Even the most practiced forecasters get it wrong sometimes, however. “There was one big storm at the end of the year and I missed the forecast really bad. I advised a snow day, but in the end, we didn’t need or get one. A classmate said to me ‘hey man, I didn’t do my homework!’ and I said ‘well, you can’t be right all the time.’”
Tucker continues, “And, actually, a miss is a chance to ask, what in my forecast was different from what actually happened? You can get to understand your bias. Every forecaster has one. These times just help you to learn and to adjust.”
With this as his background, it’s no surprise that Tucker chose to attend the top US school for meteorology, Penn State. As he explains, “Meteorology is like engineering, but with a focus on the atmosphere. We study calculus, forecasting, chemistry, atmospheric dynamics. Every kind of science, really.” He’s also pursuing a minor in energy business and finance.
So, having just completed his year as president of the Storm Chase Team (10-15 weather fans driving through endless US States tracking storms), Tucker is now ready to get his teeth into his senior year of college. He’s still debating which career path he’ll choose — on-air weatherman, or private sector risk analyst/forecaster, but this year’s summer internship at WCVB Channel 5 Boston should prove insightful.
In summary, Tucker says, “I love the weather because it’s always changing. It stays interesting. It’s always relevant. When I’m forecasting, I feel like I, personally, have an impact on people’s lives. Plus, I’m doing what I’m passionate about, what I’ve always been passionate about.”
Whatever path he chooses, there is no doubt, Tucker Antico’s feet rest firmly on the ground, but his eyes will always stray skyward.