By Annette Irwin
Dallas Raines is currently the chief meteorologist for ABC7 Eyewitness News, a position he has held since 1984 as he forecasts the weather to Southern California viewers. He also displays high levels of passion and energy during his weather presentation that viewers have given him names for his moves, such as the signature “Dallas Dip.”
He has won numerous awards for outstanding coverage of weather events, including the Seal of Approval for TV Broadcasting, Daily News People’s Choice Award for Best Weatherperson in Los Angeles, received a Golden Mike Award for Best Weathercast in Southern California in the 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. division, just to name a few.
A big sports fan he grew up in the South – not exactly a hockey hot bed at the time -- where severe weather drove his enthusiasm for meteorology. He also devoted a lot of time playing football and baseball in high school and college. He attended Florida State University where he studied Broadcast Journalism and Earth Science with an emphasis on Meteorology. While in Tallahassee, Dallas played quarterback for Florida State’s football team.
At a recent Kings game at STAPLES Center, he answered the following questions from LAKings.com about sports and about his unique job:
In your career you predict the weather. Did you predict the Kings to win it all in 2012?
It really was unbelievable. I was watching the playoff games with a friend and yes I sort of predicted it.
What do you recall saying?
I told him, I don’t know a whole lot about hockey, but I said “I think they are going to win it.” He said, “You think so? That’s good!” And then they won it! It was so cool!
You enjoy attending Kings games at STAPLES Center but do you like going to other sporting events as well?
I do. I love football and baseball. I don’t really have any favorite teams. I went to Florida State and actually a long time ago I was a quarterback. So I love football, as my favorite. My son played baseball at SMU. I also love basketball. I love sports all around. Of course I pull for UCLA and USC. I love both of the local teams. I wish we could get a pro team, don’t you? I have been here long enough in southern California. I was here when the Rams and of course the Raiders came down here for a while when Al Davis brought them to LA. My career has been long enough in southern California I have been through a couple of pro football teams.
How did you know you want to be a broadcast meteorologist? How did that start?
It was really interesting. When I was a little boy growing up in Georgia and Florida, I am from the South; we had a tornado that went across my little town when I was in sixth grade. I thought it was so fascinating because it didn’t touch the city, our little town, but It hit a Pecan Orchard, which are pecan trees, outside the city and I made my parents drive me out there. When we drove out there, there were these huge pecan trees that were just ripped out of the ground. In the sixth grade, I thought this is so incredible. It started a passion for weather. From that point on I knew exactly what I wanted to do. As for the broadcasting part, not so much because I just loved weather. Then when I was in high school, I went to the little local radio station and I said “I would like to do weather for you. I don’t want to charge you, I just want to practice.” He put me on and said I had a really good voice and that I should go into broadcasting. I said okay. I went on to Florida State University in Tallahassee and I studied meteorology and broadcasting together. I ended up doing the weather on the local TV station. Then I went on to my first big job in New Orleans. Then I put the first weather together for CNN. I was the first broadcaster ever on CNN and then from CNN to Los Angeles. That’s been my career basically. It kind of started out mainly interested in weather first and then the broadcasting thing was kind of encouraged by this guy that owned the radio station. He heard me on the air and said “wow you have a good voice.” And I thought “I do?”
You really do have a unique voice.
But I didn’t think about it at the time. Then of course as I got into college, we had our own television station and our own radio station. Then I started learning how to really project my voice and work the broadcast thing. At the same time I was studying the science of weather. That’s how it happened. I was lucky and blessed. I just found something I really loved and made a career out of it. Not everyone gets to do that.
There’s very few broadcasters that possess the passion and energy you have, where does your passion stem?
I think it starts from that story I told you. I was so enthused about the weather. Once I started learning about the science of it in school , I wanted to teach that to everybody and share that with the audience because when you look at a newscast, you have the news, the sports and you have weather. When you look at those three different elements of a newscast, a lot of people are interested in the news; a lot of people are interested in sports, but everybody is interested in the weather. We all live in it, work in it and play in it. So weather segment is part of the newscast everyone likes, some like more than others. I like to tell people why the weather happens. So I really get into the satellite pictures, the jet streams, why things go. If it’s going to rain on the weekends, I want to tell you why it’s going to rain not just that’ it’s going to rain. A lot of people in Southern California probably pick up on that, you know “Dallas isn’t looking to be an actor or a game show host, he loves what he does.” I think it’s a real blessing that I do.
You are a great representation of the weather here.
It’s funny because when I was working at CNN I was doing a lot of severe weather like that horrible storm Sandy that hit the East Coast this year. I was doing a lot more severe weather where I was forecasting people’s lives and property. Then when I came to Southern California, I thought well quite honestly, maybe I will work and enjoy this beautiful area for a couple of years, then I’ll more than likely go back to the East where meteorologists are really needed. Then I came here, and I thought wow even though we don’t have as much severe weather people love to ski, love to go to the beach. People in Southern California are very weather conscious. So even though, I am not doing a lot of severe weather, I found out that the interest is still as good. So I ended up staying.
You are known for your signature moves during your telecast, such as the Dallas Dip, The Whirl, the Pump and the Swing. What is your favorite move?
My favorite is the fist pump. It’s like Tiger Woods fist pump when he makes a great shot. I feel the same thing about the weather. It’s exciting and I cannot wait to tell you about this.
Do you have a favorite kind of weather?
My favorite is rain. My favorite time of the season in Southern California is the winter because that is our rainy season. In the summer, in a Mediterranean climate, like LA, the summers are basically dry and the winters are wet. And I love the winters. When we have an El Niño and there are a lot of big storms coming in, that’s when I really like it. The summers are beautiful and I like forecasting the marine layer and the summer of thunderstorms that we get back in July and August, but the winters are much more challenging. I love these big storms that sweep in from the Pacific and it snows in the mountains. Here our storms have a kick to them. We don’t get as many storms and rain but when we do they are big. It rains hard and the mountains have heavy snow. It’s fun!
Jimmy Kimmel visited you on “National Weather Forecaster Day.” It looked like a lot of fun. What is your most memorable forecast show ever?
I have had so many, but I will have to say that was one of my favorites because no one told me it was going to happen. So I was doing the weather and on the 11 o’clock news there’s no body at the station because everyone has gone home. Behind the camera it’s pretty dark; you can’t see very well. So I come out to do my weather presentation and I noticed there are some people standing around the camera and I thought this was really odd. I, out of the corner of my eye, glanced over and saw it was Jimmy. I thought “uh oh something is about to happen.” I love Jimmy. My wife and I watch him every night after the news. So for him to come on my show, I loved it, he was so funny. We had a good time. He kept bring the mug back to me. I said “Jimmy, I can’t do the weather without my hands.” And he would say okay. I would hand to him and he would bring it right back. I just died laughing.
What is the toughest part of understanding weather and forecasting?
Well, even though we have the Live Mega Doppler 7000 and all this great equipment with satellites, it’s still impossible to get it right every time. Then we have about 13 or 14 microclimates from the deserts to the mountains, the valleys and beaches, they are all different. The challenge, I think, is trying to forecast for all those microclimates, do it right, do all the seven day forecasts in two and a half minutes and make it interesting. I think that is the biggest challenge.
Are there any myths about weather or forecasting that you want viewers to know?
I think probably the biggest myth is that people from the East Coast think there is no weather here. I hear that all the time. Then when they come and visit and a big storm hits, they go, “hey, I came to see sunshine.” What they don’t realize is that we have a lot of weather here. I have seen people come when we have the June gloom. People come from the East Coast and come in June thinking it’s going to be sunny and 80and it’s actually drizzling and 50. They can’t believe it. I think that’s the biggest myth. People that don’t live here, Californians know it, but people that don’t live here think we sit in sun all day. We do have a lot of great weather, no doubt, but it’s pretty variable.
If you weren’t a broadcast meteorologist, what would be your career choice?
I would like to think that I would probably have been a teacher or a professor maybe at the college level because I taught at Northridge for a while; it was really fun. Either that or I would like to have thought if I put all my talents together when I was in high school and college, I could have maybe played professional baseball. I was a good baseball player. I don’t know if I could have made it but I was pretty good. I was a pitcher. I had a pretty good fastball, nice breaking pitch and good off-speed pitch. Even though I ended up at Florida State in football I was a little better baseball player than I was football.
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