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By Jessica Ballou, Published March 04 2012

It's My Job: Fox meterologist Kip Hines is ‘at the mercy of Mother Nature’

Kip Hines hasn’t always been in love with the weather, perhaps unlike other meteorologists in this field.

For him, it was all about broadcasting, whether that was through radio in high school or television in college and beyond.

He started working at WDAY in 1993 and moved over to Fox News in 2000, when he became the only chief meteorologist they’ve had in the past 12 years.

Q: How did you get involved with this field?

A: I was interested in it as a youngster, before I was even 10 years old. I was interested in broadcasting.

When I was working at WDAY, I worked with a meteorologist there. I was a photographer and reporter, and we worked on some stories together.

(John Wheeler) asked if I wanted to do some fill-in weather, like a substitute if someone was sick or something like that, and I said sure.

Then I became a weather anchor, and this position opened up at Fox in 2000, when they started in the region.

I always liked science, and I was always fascinated with the atmosphere. It was a nice career fit for me.

What is something a lot of people may not know about meteorology?

What matters to people is what happens on Earth’s surface, but there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s spotting that up and down movement of air and where it will affect us on the Earth’s surface.

How do you cover breaking weather news and warn people if a storm is coming?

We have to ask ourselves: Is this run of the mill stuff … or is it life-threatening or stronger than anticipated?

Then we will break into programming as soon as we can. The more time we give them to prepare for the storm, the more time they have to find a safe place to be.

When we see something on the radar, we can’t wait until the end of a show or until the 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock news.

We don’t want to break into programming as much as possible. If it’s dangerous enough, saving lives is more important than a TV show. It’s a judgment call a lot of the times. … It’s an evolving art. It’s one of those things that I’m glad a robot’s not in charge of. I don’t think any storm is created equally.

When it comes to reporting on a storm and it doesn’t turn out to be as serious as it was thought to be, like the storm on Tuesday, how do you report or handle that?

It’s better to be safe than sorry. I err on the side of caution usually. It’s just like telling a good joke: Timing is everything.

This wasn’t one of those things where you could anticipate it ahead of time.

The only thing that changed was the moisture level. It appears the forecast was off, and it was, but I’d rather shovel less snow than expected than twice as much.

A lot of this stuff is subjective. What one viewer thinks is a bad storm may be different than what their next-door neighbor thinks.

What’s your day to day schedule like?

It may be hard to believe, but it is weather dependent. I like to get here around 1:30-ish or so. I look at the computer models, forecasts, check emails, touch base with fans who have emailed me, maybe check Facebook or Twitter. Around 3 p.m., I like to forecast. I can spend up to an hour putting together the forecast, and then I make graphics for about an hour and a half.

I want to come up with the most accurate forecast possible and effectively communicate that forecast to our audience. I like to throw in some entertainment, too, to keep the audience interested.

What do you like most about your job?

I like the fact that I never look at the clock thinking, “When is the day going to be over?” In fact, it’s the opposite. I look at it the other way and think, “Where has all the time gone?”

That’s what I tell people who want to go into this business: You’re not going to be rich … but you’re not going to be bored stiff. Every day will be a different challenge. That’s what I like, and this is the business for me.

Is there anything you don’t like about your job?

I can’t make any concrete plans because everything is weather dependent. Whether it’s dinner plans or watching my kids at school functions, a lot of times I have to skip it.

I’m at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jessica Ballou at (701) 241-5509