The success of PSU’s meteorology program is proven: Over 80 percent of meteorology alumni from the last 10 years are currently employed as professional meteorologists or have been accepted into graduate programs across the country. Ken Barlow, a PSU alumnus who was recently hired to forecast New England’s great Nor’easters and mild days alike for Boston’s CBS4 (WBZ-TV) News, is one such success story. Barlow (’84) is the new Chief Meteorologist for the television station, replacing fellow PSU alum Ed Carroll.
Barlow is a native of Newport, Rhode Island with more than 20 years of experience in weather forecasting. Since graduating from Plymouth, he has kept busy studying the weather patterns of the northeastern and central United States for several successful television stations. But Barlow says it’s great to be back in New England, with all its unpredictable weather and seasonal changes. It’s also great to be closer to his alma mater. In fact, Barlow’s son Patrick, now a senior in high school, plans to apply to PSU to study psychology.
Of his academic career at PSU, Barlow remembers most vividly the personal attention he received from professors in the meteorology department. Barlow considers his PSU professors to be not only excellent teachers but mentors for his professional life as well.
“The one-on-one relationship I had with all of the professors at Plymouth was invaluable to me as a student, and it made me feel worthy of their time,” he said. “Many people I know attending much larger schools rarely even saw the professor, never mind having a one-on-one conversation with him or her.”
When Barlow learned he had been hired at WBZ, he contacted meteorology professor and mentor Dr. Joe Zabransky to tell him the good news. Zabransky remembers his former student as extremely hard-working, personable, academically talented and a “take charge guy.” The professor wasn’t surprised at all to learn that Barlow had become a successful television weather anchor.
“It was clear, even then, that his personality suited the kind of public interfacing that his career has taken him on with television,” Zabransky said.
Barlow’s career in forecasting began at FleetWeather, a weather service based in Hopewell Junction, New York. He was then hired as a meteorologist at WLBZ-TV (NBC) in Bangor, Maine. In 1990, he left New England to become Chief Meteorologist for KARE 11 (NBC) in Minneapolis/St. Paul, where he later won an Emmy award for his outstanding work. Barlow is a member of the American Meteorological Society and has held the AMS Seal of Approval since 1988.
Barlow is a father of three children: 18-year-old Patrick, 15-year-old Meredith and 8-year-old Caroline. In addition to his career in meteorology, Barlow is an active community volunteer, marathoner and tri-athlete. He will celebrate his 22nd wedding anniversary with wife Theresa (Polzella) Barlow (who also attended Plymouth State) in June.
Plymouth State University offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in meteorology. The university’s Judd Gregg Meteorology Institute offers a wide range of advanced facilities and technologies, including a state-of-the-art rooftop weather observation center, a digital wall map, a portable micrometeorological measurement platform, and a fully instrumented Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS).
Graduates of the undergraduate degree program, like Barlow, have experienced similar successes in meteorology careers.
For more information about PSU’s meteorology programs, visit the Chemical, Earth, Atmospheric and Physical Sciences Department at http://www.plymouth.edu/ceaps/