AOSS Alumnus Paul Gross (BSE AOSS ’83), a meteorologist and executive producer of weather at WDIV in Detroit, sends the U-M football team daily city-specific forecasts every game week, unless the team is playing in a dome. The team uses this data to plan for their equipment and strategy.
“It’s many fans’ dream to suit up in a Michigan football uniform, run out of that tunnel, jump and touch the banner, and play before 110,000 friends at the Big House. I’ll never get to do that, so it’s particularly rewarding to be able to contribute this way,” Gross says of his motivation to provide the team with specialized forecasts for the past twenty years.
The most interesting weather Gross has forecasted for a game was in Colorado in the 1990s. He told Lloyd Carr, the coach at the time, that most of the game would be dry, but it would be an extremely close call toward the end as the remnants of a tropical storm tracked over the area. Later, as Gross was driving to work, he listened to the game on the radio and heard Sportscaster Jim Brandstatter exclaim “Lightning! I just saw lightning!” The game ended dry, but it was a tense quarter for Gross.
Gross’ advice for students pursuing a meteorology career is to prepare for courses to be more difficult than you might expect.
“Anybody interested in majoring in meteorology needs to know that this is a very challenging discipline with a heavy concentration in math. The laws that govern the atmosphere’s thermodynamics and dynamics are very complex, and are an integral part of the meteorology education…but if meteorology is your true passion, go for it!”
Gross has won six Emmy awards in his career and he says they are a “direct result of my professors’ attitudes and encouragement.”
“My professors, some of which are still there, allowed us to think independently, and provided an amazing learning environment. Ask most 50-year olds if they can remember anything specific about any class they took in college, and they’ll probably tell you no. But not me…I have many vivid memories of sitting in specific AOSS classes learning important concepts, and spending time in my professors’ offices not just asking questions about something I didn’t understand, but just talking about ‘stuff,’ such as their research…I consider myself very, very lucky to have had the professors I had.”
While Gross provides specialized forecasts for the team, the emergency management crew at the Big House relies on Research Scientist Frank Marsik and Graduate Student David Wright to keep the Saturday football crowd safe. Learn more about their work here.