5 Things to Know About Ryan Hanrahan, NBC CT Meteorologist

Watching the storm from his West Hartford studio, Hanrahan wasn’t sure when the biggest storm surge would hit.

“Sandy was probably one of the scariest storms I’ve ever covered,” he said.

As Chief Meteorologist, the Connecticut native continues to be a trusted source of information on Connecticut’s worst natural disasters, which appear weekdays during the 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 11 p.m. newscasts and residents on his new blog, Ryan’s Radar bring up to date.

A few weeks ago, he helped put together a 30-minute special on Hurricane Sandy to mark its 10th anniversary, explaining the lessons of the storm that wasn’t a hurricane when it hit Connecticut.

Hanrahan’s weather reports have earned him a New England Emmy Award and the opportunity to overplay two Super Bowl games.

“It’s just exciting to go to work every day and be able to predict the weather,” he said. “I still laugh when someone pays me to do a weather forecast and talk about it on TV.”

As he reflected on his career, Hanrahan was impressed by how much weather forecasting has improved, specifically that it is more accurate and he can predict storms further in advance. However, conveying uncertainty to the public when they don’t have all the answers remains a challenge.

“That keeps the job interesting. But we know our viewers want a lot of precision and a lot of heads-up up front. And we try very hard to give them that,” he said.

Here are five things you should know about NBC CT’s chief meteorologist:

1. His interest in weather dates back to his early childhood

Hanrahan has been fascinated by the weather since his early childhood. Like “a kid before Christmas,” he has a hard time sleeping the night before a snowstorm because of the excitement, he said.

“I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to be a meteorologist,” he said.

While on summer vacation in Cape Cod in 1989 at the age of 5, he recalls seeing scenes of the 1989 Hamden tornado on the news and getting upset that he wasn’t home when the storm hit.

After graduating from Guilford High School, he studied meteorology at Pennsylvania State University and atmospheric science at the State University of New York at Albany. Before joining NBC Connecticut, he did a summer internship at the television network while he was in college.

“It’s very cool to make a living doing something that’s a hobby of yours and something you really love,” he said.

2. He flew into the eye of Hurricane Florence… and almost overslept

In 2018, Hanrahan took a C-130 plane with the crew of the TV show Hurricane Hunters to view the Category 1 hurricane. Hanrahan described the experience as “amazing,” but says he would have missed it if a crew member hadn’t woken him from a deep sleep.

“He’s like, ‘Hey, we’re going in the eye, I know a meteorologist wants to see that,’” he said. “I can sleep through pretty much anything.”

Hanrahan has also hunted tornadoes for his job, including the 2011 tornado that swept over Springfield, Mass.

“I got there shortly after the tornado hit. And just seeing the destruction first hand kind of took my breath away. It was really, really hard to see. Just to see how strong the storm was,” he said.

3. He is an active member of the community

Hanrahan has been involved with the Special Olympics for over a decade, hosting the opening ceremonies of the Summer Games. For two years he was on a unified bowling team with West Hartford and competed in the Special Olympics Holiday Classic.

“Being able to compete with the athletes was really rewarding.”

Alongside the Special Olympics, he visits schools to talk about the science behind the weather and what being a meteorologist entails.

“I think it’s important for people, especially children, to know that there’s a lot to do other than just look at the phone and see what the weather will be like tomorrow,” he said. “It’s really important for me to get it in schools, to talk about what we’re doing and why it’s important.”

4. He had a furry best friend named Doppler

Scrolling through Hanrahan’s social media accounts, the number of pictures of his golden retriever Doppler is striking. Sadly, Doppler passed away in the spring, but he is open to getting another dog in the future.

Hanrahan said he was overwhelmed by the number of viewers who wrote thoughtful and supportive comments following Doppler’s death. He read each comment a few times, he said.

“People wrote the nicest and kindest things,” he said. “We hear a lot about the poignancy on social media and that it can be a challenging place and it certainly is. But people are also very kind and very thoughtful,” he said.

5. He uses his platform to educate people about climate change

When NBC CT began ramping up its climate coverage a decade ago, Hanrahan said the network received negative feedback and skepticism. Now viewers are asking for more of this, and students often ask Hanrahan questions about this phenomenon.

Hanrahan said NBC Universal has increased time and resources to produce more field reports and longer reports on the impacts of climate change in the region. In addition to forecasting temporary weather events, it also communicates long-term impacts of climate change on Connecticut.

The state’s average summer and fall temperatures have increased and winter storms have become more extreme. Weather patterns such as drought and rain have also lengthened, he said.

“It seems like the extremes are a bit more than they used to be. And so we’re just trying to figure out what that means for the future,” he said.

About Mike Crayton

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