Body warmers stuffed in shoes. Body warmers stuffed in gloves. Body warmers stuffed in jacket. Sounds like a Dr. Seuss rhyme, but that was my life for 4 days courtesy of Winter Storm Grayson.
What began as cold temperature coverage in Nashville turned into blizzard coverage in Boston. We’re talking about my first time training for field coverage. I shadowed Weather Underground host Alex Wilson and it was an unexpected awesome time.
Alex and I picked up the car and started the drive to Nashville on Tuesday. Once we made it just outside the city limits, Alex gets the call: Be prepared to leave for Boston tomorrow a.m. after your live shot in Nashville. Liana will be joining you.
Now I was already excited to get the experience of traveling up to Nashville to cover the cold temperatures, but now I get to fly up to Boston, a city I’d never been before and experience my first blizzard?! It was invigorating to know I was on this unexpected adventure. I was excited until I realized how crazy a blizzard was!
With the knowledge of us headed to Boston the very next day, we bundled up and headed out. Honestly, I still believe that one night in Nashville was way colder than the other nights in Boston! Alex was on-air for 4 hours that evening, a very clear and freezing night in downtown Nashville, and I was standing outside with her. As soon as we were done, we rushed back to the hotel to get to bed early to catch our 8am flight to greet the blizzard side of Grayson.
What I’ve learned from a pro like Alex is you pack for several days, just in case something like this happens. I already felt like I over-packed, but I definitely didn’t! Also, it was so cold I ended up wearing all the clothes I brought with me….and I mean ALL the clothes. My pajamas even kept me warm by day 3. More on that in a moment!
It was a super easy flight to Boston from Nashville, and a gorgeous day to arrive. Alex had a live shot that evening so we only had time to get to the hotel, get settled, grab some food, then get show ready. We found out we would need to change hotels the next day, so we could not get too comfy in our current setting. Talk about living the jet set life, and I was only on day 2 of our journey! That first night in Boston definitely had the vibe of “the calm before the storm” with clear skies and crisp air. Yet, nothing would have prepared me for the very next day…
Blizzard day! Ideally you stay close to the shot location (where the meteorologist is when you see them on TV), and only have to walk. But, we had to change hotels while in Boston and that meant we had to travel and take a ride-share. Surprisingly, people were picking up rides in the midst of the blizzard. It was a white knuckle drive, and I wasn’t even driving! That moment in the car was the one time where I had the thought, “What did I get myself into!” The snow was flying at the windshield and the poor windshield wipers could not keep up with the amount of snow coming down. You could feel the car slipping and sliding a bit in the snow. Thank goodness we were in a city that is accustomed to these snow storms so we had a seasoned driver.
Growing up in Southern California, I have never been in much snow before moving to the East coast. Let alone a blizzard. Now imagine standing in a blizzard for almost 45 minutes straight…in 60+ mph wind gusts while blowing snow is stinging your face. Running into your car to warm up for a 20 minute break, then doing it all over again the next hour. All this for 8 hours straight while being on live TV. That was Alex’s live shot the day Winter Storm Grayson blasted through New England. It. Was. Insane. And I was doing the exact same thing as her because I wanted to get the true experience of being the reporting meteorologist. So I was out there with the rest of the our crew (our producer and two camera operators).
I was wearing two body warmer packs on my feet, on my lower back and my neck, plus I tried stuffing some into my gloves. I wore two sets of long underwear, fleece sweater, neck warmer, scarf plus I even tossed on my pajamas for good measure. All of that topped off with our heavy-duty Lands End coat! I was good to go for the 8 hours we were out in Grayson. It was tough, but I managed to stay warm. It was fun chatting with the few locals who ventured out to walk the dogs. We had a couple who stopped by to say hi and said they were watching us from their window the past 4 hours and couldn’t believe we were still out. I told them, tune in because we’re on for 4 more! And I have to say I was completely impressed with the hard working street crew who cleared out snow from the sidewalks and streets. The city of Boston really knows how to handle these Grayson type of storms.
During my time out, I was able to do some practice hits out in the elements. My practice hit during the brunt of Grayson was extremely difficult. It’s tough bracing against the wind and snow while also remembering key points of data, listening to the producer in your earpiece and speaking to the audience all at the same time.
Ultimately, after experiencing the field, I completely understand why we do it. Not only to take viewers into the heart of the storm, but also to show locals why conditions are dire enough to take note and listen to the warnings and advice. I had incredible respect for Mother Nature before my time out there, but now I have even more respect for it after experiencing fieldwork.