Forecast skill doesn't stop it raining on our Heather the weather's degree award parade
By Scottish Recruitment
The University of Paisley honoured BBC Scotland's senior broadcast meteorologist Heather Reid with an honorary doctorate at its summer graduation ceremony recently. Heather is employed by the UK Meteorological Office, and works as a weather forecaster at Glasgow Weather Centre. She also presents the nightly forecast on BBC Scotland's Reporting Scotland news programme.
Heather was born and educated in Paisley, but went on to study for an honours degree in physics at Edinburgh University. Her courses included geophysics, astronomy and even some 'introductory Russian' for a while! It wasn't until a final year course in Atmospheric Physics that an interest in satellites and meteorology was finally realised. As a result an MSc in Edinburgh University's Meteorology Department followed. The MSc involved extensive computing work and a six-month research project. It was this qualification which landed Heather a job with the Met. Office.
She was originally destined for a satellite research post at the headquarters in Bracknell, but during an introductory course at the Met Office College, TV potential was spotted! Heather was receptive towards the idea of becoming a forecaster, but was initially unsure about the TV aspect.
After 6 months forecaster training Heather was sent to Glasgow Weather Centre and screen-tested by BBC Scotland. She made her TV debut on 2 May 1993.
Modern-day weather forecasting relies on the latest computer modelling schemes, along with satellite and radar technology. One of the largest supercomputers in Europe is used to produce forecast charts, which are then analysed by forecasters at various centres across the UK.
Heather spends most of her time working on the Scottish weather picture, but since her broadcast now includes a UK forecast, she takes part in twice-daily media conferences with London and Bracknell.
The weather graphics are all prepared on computer by Heather. Her broadcast is live and unscripted - she doesn't read from an autocue.
Heather only spends 2 hours at the BBC studios - enough time for some make-up, a quick rehearsal and then the broadcast. She thoroughly enjoys her job and initial doubts or worries are long gone. "I get the best of both worlds," says Heather. "I work as a scientist during the day, and then become a TV presenter during the evening. The working environments are completely different, and 1 thrive on the contrast."
Heather readily gets involved with educational projects and has close ties with St. Andrews and Strathclyde Universities, along with numerous schools and Edinburgh International Science Festival.
As far as the future is concerned, Heather is quite happy to stay where she is. She has recently bought a flat in her home town of Paisley and now adds DIY to her list of hobbies.
"The forecast has changed dramatically during the past 3 years," says Heather. "I get involved in new ideas, production and graphic design. It's scientific, challenging and most importantly, great fun!"
A University of Paisley spokesperson said: "We are delighted that Heather Reid, who has made important contributions in her field, was honoured at our summer graduation ceremony.
"As Scotland's leading broadcast meteorologist, Heather Reid is hugely respected in the professional and public arenas."