Chief Meteorologist Jeff Lawson never planned to be on television. He knew he would work in science, but in high school, the question for the lover of math and science would be which area of study would he pursue.
Jeff was torn between becoming a meteorologist or a chemical engineer. Since no school in Virginia had Meteorology as a major, he decided to apply to the top school in the country for forecasting, and if Penn State accepted him, then he would go there. If the university turned him down, he planned to attend Virginia Tech and major in Chemical Engineering.
Fortunately for 13News Now, Jeff headed north to Pennsylvania.
While he attended Penn State, Jeff worked for the Campus Weather Service, providing forecasts for radio stations throughout Pennsylvania. One of his most memorable forecasts came when emergency planners who were handling the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant meltdown called asking which areas to evacuate because of radiation fallout.
Jeff spent summers and Christmas breaks working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is the umbrella organization for the National Weather Service. While he was there, he worked with Dr. Vern Dvorak to develop methods of estimating the strength of tropical systems from satellite pictures. Those methods still are used extensively by the National Hurricane Center to estimate how strong tropical systems are when they are too far away to be accessed by hurricane hunter aircraft or are in between recon flights.
After graduation Jeff went to work for Accu-Weather where his job was to call weathercasters who were not meteorologists and tell them what to say on television that night. He also did radio forecasts for other clients such as power companies, ski resorts, and municipalities.
Jeff left Accu-Weather to work for a company called WeatherCenter where he did the same type of forecasting for clients including Exxon's offshore oil rigs, The Boston Globe, and radio stations across North America.
As Jeff became less shy and realized he liked explaining science to people, he decided to give television a try.
Jeff first tv job was at WWBT/TV 12 in Richmond. He stayed there for four years doing weekend weather before moving on to WTTG, the FOX station in Washington, D.C. as weekend meteorologist.
While in Washington Jeff met his future wife who grew up in Virginia Beach. She convinced him to apply at 13News Now where he has been Chief Meteorologist for 29 years. When you combine his time doing radio in the market (2WD was one of his clients before he got into television) with his TV time, Jeff has been forecasting continuously for Hampton Roads for more 39 years, longer than any meteorologist in the history of the area.
Jeff is proud to say he does all his own forecasting, never looking at another person's forecast. Because of that, he believes that the 13News Now audience gets forecasts that are different and more accurate than those from other stations where people have little or not training in Meteorology and rely primarily on the National Weather Service to tell them what to say.
As we continue to see technology advance at a rapid rate, and more and more automation comes into play with things like weather apps that come strictly from computer models, Jeff and his team promise to use their experience, schooling, and training to give audience members forecasts that are the most accurate available.
Jeff has been married for nearly 30 years to the world's greatest woman. They have three children and a cat. In his spare time Jeff likes to workout by hiking and cycling.