Photo: Adam DeTour

Come Rain or Shine

Checking in with BC alum Dave Epstein, one of Boston's most beloved meteorologists. 

For more than three decades, Dave Epstein has been one of Boston’s most beloved meteorologists. We caught up with Epstein, who has both an MBA and a master’s in counseling psychology from Boston College, to find out what it’s like to forecast the weather in such a demanding market.

When did you know you wanted to be a meteorologist? I was enthralled by the weather even in my preteen years. I knew from an early age that it was probably what I would do. In one of my old yearbooks—I think it was ninth grade—Mr. Chambers wrote, “It will be my pleasure to see you on TV someday.”

People in New England have an intense relationship with the weather. What’s it like being a meteorologist here? I walk my dogs in the morning and I always meet the same couple of people. Immediately, the conversation turns to weather. They’re talking to me about the forecast as if I don’t know what’s going on. Well, we heard it’s going to be kind of rainy tomorrow. I’m listening and going, “Guys, I know what’s happening with the weather!”

Have you noticed that certain meteorological terms—“thundersnow,” “bomb cyclone”—are creeping into our everyday language? Some of these terms have been moving around in the meteorological community for a long time. Then, because of social media, they get out there. You see [The Weather Channel’s] Jim Cantore dancing in the thundersnow with the lightning and getting excited, that brings it into the general population. And bomb cyclone? A cyclone is simply another name for a low-pressure area. And bombogenesis is a meteorological technical term. Somebody just went, Bombogenesis of a cyclone—let’s combine them into bomb cyclone! That’s a really cool, sexy name and, boom, it got picked up.

Your fans seem to feel a special connection to you. Why is that? Social media has allowed all of us to open up certain parts of our lives. So, I use it to share a bit about me—whether it’s a meal that I’ve made, the Hanukkah candles I’ve lit, or that I’m experiencing the effects of the weather just like everyone else. And that opens up other people in kind. That’s just the case in relationships, the psychology of it.

During the early ’90s, while earning your MS in counseling psychology, you actually lived in Rubenstein Hall and worked as an RA—while doing the weekend weather on TV! I was a little bit older than the undergraduates, but not a lot. As an RA you often had to work nights. The other RAs would sometimes need to switch schedules when they had to study for exams. I’d be like, “I have to do the forecast on Channel 5, can I change this?”