Finish Lines: Ron Smiley

Ron Smiley

Ron Smiley, KDKA-TV’s weekday morning meteorologist, lives on Elatan Drive with his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters. The Texas native is an avid runner (that’s him running Lebo streets in his bright red Arkansas Razorbacks cap). He developed his love of weather from a former neighbor who worked for the National Weather Service. He is a member of the American Meteorological Society and received an AMS seal.

What is the best part of your job?

“Find a job that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard that Mark Twain quote. There’s an awful lot that I enjoy when it comes to my job. Without a doubt the best part though, and the thing I am most appreciative of, is everyday people inviting the KDKA team and me into their homes each day. On Pittsburgh Today Live we have a viewer question segment every Friday called the Friday Free For All. A question recently directed at me asked how I could be so energetic and excited every day. And the short answer is I know, no matter what is going on in my life, that people are tuning into my station to get news, traffic, and weather with no drama, but a little fun here and there. That’s what you the viewer expect. I know there are more choices than ever when it comes to how to start your day. Seeing people each and every day tuning into KDKA to start their day is easily the best part of my job.

Is there a weather myth that you’d love to bust? Or a piece of weather science misinformation that drives you crazy?

The one that isn’t really a weather myth but just a bad weather joke is some variation of “I wish I could work at a job where I was only right half the time.” Generally, we’re timing out rain and storms down to nearly the hour they arrive. It’s really amazing how accurate we now are. Obviously busted forecasts do still happen though. On top of everything else though, it’s just a joke we have all heard by now… dozens of times. Let’s get some new material shall we? I say that last sentence with a smile. I’d also like to set the record straight on the line, “if you don’t like the weather right now in (wherever), just wait 24 hours and it’ll change.” You can generally say this about any location east of the Rockies. I’d like to think that we can appreciate what we have without putting others down. That being said, western Pennsylvania is the most challenging daily forecast I have ever had to deal with. And it is not close.

How does Pittsburgh weather stack up to the rest of the country?

I feel one of the things that makes me unique is my experience.  I have worked along the Gulf Coast during one of the most active hurricane periods ever.  I also worked in Tornado Alley and have seen first hand the damage a large destructive tornado can do.  When it comes to day-to-day forecast, Pittsburgh is likely one of the hardest in the country.  It really is no bull.  You have the Laurel Highlands along with the Ridges. That leads into counties just west of there known as the snow belt due to the upslope coming in from Lake Erie.  The mountains aren’t just east of western Pennsylvania, but wrap around to our south as well.  This often means severe weather struggles to move in as moisture that fuels the storms can be cut off.  It’s also one of the main reasons that we may have a busted snow forecast.  Speaking of winter weather, we also get some lake effect snow and at times feel the impact of nor’easters.  Pittsburgh weather is always busy and a challenge.  It’s the perfect place for a meteorologist.

What’s the most fun you’ve ever had with your kids?

My daughters and I have a lot of fun and there are so many standouts over even the last two years like our trip to Disney and going to the Bahamas on a cruise along with playing on the beach. Broadway musicals are also something we really enjoy going to and watching. I have to say something recent that we did that was so much fun was doing a video school project with my daughter. The assignment was to recreate a sitcom’s opening video. My daughter chose The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I told my oldest that she had one night and me, her and my youngest to get it done with. We went out and had a blast recording and taping it. My daughter then went into edit mode when we got home and really made something that was quite good. Good times and something I will always remember.

Photo by Martha Rial