INTRODUCTIONS: Meet Scott Roberts and Alyssa Carsley

Q&A: METEOROLOGICAL DUO BRINGS SUNSHINE TO SAVANNAH'S FORECAST

Updated July 11, 2023 at 1:29 p.m.

Alysa Carsley & Scott Roberts are part of WSAV’s Storm Team 3. Carsley & Roberts are both Savannah transplants whose passion for weather led them to the Hostess City. Connect Savannah sat down with Carsley and Roberts to learn more about their backgrounds, the weather-centric work they do and their interests outside of forecasting. 


Where are you from originally and what prompted a move to Savannah?

Roberts: I am originally from Pennsylvania, but I grew up in southwest Florida. I came here for the job in 2019. With broadcasting, you move around a lot until you get to a place where you want to settle down for a little while, but I've been bouncing around the Southeast since 2012, from Tupelo to Dothan to Augusta, Georgia to here.

Carsley: I grew up outside of Philadelphia, and I went to college in Mobile, Alabama. So, a big weather change there, but I fell in love with the summer heat and humidity. It's a little bit of a shock sometimes. And then after college, I moved to West Virginia, dealt with the snow again, and I was like, this really isn't for me. I then moved here in 2018, and I've been here ever since. And I love it. I moved here for the job, to be able to track hurricanes and tropical systems. That's my passion in meteorology.


What made you decide to become a meteorologist?

Roberts: Well, here's the funny thing. Actually both of us have a similar story.

Carsley: Similar story and similar hurricane.

Roberts: In southwest Florida, Hurricane Charley made landfall in my town down in the Port Charlotte area, actually making landfall in Pine Island, Florida, so just outside the county. But it was a Category 4 storm. It rapidly intensified before it was coming on shore, and it came right over town. We were in the eye of the hurricane for an hour and a half at the most, because it was a pretty compact storm. But we were watching the local meteorologists doing their coverage and everything. It's always something I was interested in, but then it just cemented the idea in my mind that it was what I wanted to do. So then after that, it was my senior year of high school, so then I went to Penn State for geography and climatology, and then eventually went on to Mississippi State for a master's.

Carsley: For me, my connection to Charley is I was in Disney World at the time. I was about 10, and we were with family friends, but my family was staying outside the resort. We were visiting them at the resort at the time, and they closed down the roads, closed down the parks. We weren't able to leave. So we had sort of a hurricane party in one of the hotel rooms. And it was just a fun time. But I remember looking out these windows, which you're not supposed to do. And the wind's going crazy. The trees are blowing everywhere. And it was just an incredible experience to experience that in a safe place, but also think—what kind of storm can close down Disney World? And after that, that kind of bloomed this passion for weather and for science. And in high school, I was the meteorologist for our TV station/TV class. And that moved me into the direction of doing that on-air. And then after that, I went to the University of South Alabama and got my degree in meteorology and minor in math. Because I'm a nerd.

Roberts: I have a minor in my geography degree. It’s a minor in climatology, so that's kind of nerdy too.


What do you love most about your job?

Carsley: The thing I love most about the job is that, for at least the weather part, it is always changing. No two days will ever be exactly the same, even though they might look like that to the average viewer. There's something in the atmosphere that is slightly different, and that helps tweak the weather story a little bit each day, so you're not saying the same thing every single day. There's something that's always changing, it's always fascinating, and there's so much we know about weather and so much we still can learn about weather.

Roberts: I agree with that, and just to add to that, what I like about this particular aspect of meteorology, it's the one thing that people always care about. It's one thing that everyone relates to. It's one of the main drivers for viewership during a newscast, because it's this thing that the viewers can count on it being there. And we can help to keep them safe. Potentially if there's tornadoes or hurricanes in the forecast, by us being able to provide an accurate forecast, it could potentially be life-saving.

Carsley: That and the connection with everyone. We talk about small talk and one of the number one questions is what's the weather like? How's the weather? So, it's something that connects everyone.


What is the most memorable weather event you’ve experienced?

Roberts: There's a top three for me. When I was growing up in Pennsylvania, right before we moved, it was the storm of the century. So it was in '92. We ended up with three or four feet of snow. The snow was as tall, or as deep as me. So, that was pretty memorable. Obviously Hurricane Charley—that was 2004. And then, as far as my career, the most memorable thing was tracking and doing coverage of Hurricane Michael on the Florida Panhandle. It made landfall as a Category 5 storm, one of only four to make landfall in the United States in history. And that crossed over into my viewing area. I was an hour inland, but it was still a major hurricane when it was coming through my area. We had to evacuate the station because the tower was 900 feet tall. They were worried about the cable slipping, and we cleared out, and it was a good thing we did because it ended up six inches off center. We couldn't go back into the station until they got crews there to tighten things up because they were worried about the tower collapsing on the building. That's what made it real for me.

Carsley: For me,  growing up it was definitely Charley. And then, for adult Alysa, it was back in 2019 in May. My husband had just moved down to Savannah, and we were putting stuff into a storage unit. We went out to lunch or dinner, and we were in a tornado on the islands here on Wilmington. We were at Basil's, and the warning was issued. And all of a sudden, the skies got really dark. And as a meteorologist, I shouldn't have—but I went up to the window, like I always do. And I remember the trees going around super, super crazy. And then the walls felt like they were being pulled from the outside, as if you're opening a bag of chips. Then they ushered everyone to the back to a safe spot. And then career-wise, probably back in 2020, the EF4 tornado that moved through Hampton County (SC) here. We were on air nonstop, wall-to-wall, for three hours talking about that. It was textbook. It was everything you would see in college, talking and learning about tornadoes. That was just incredible and impressive to see it here and to know what was happening, and the disruption that could have happened.


What’s your favorite time of year, weather wise?

Carsley: Easy question. Fall. When it's cooling down, the weather is quiet and everyone can just get outside and not complain about the heat. That's probably my favorite time because it's not as stressful from a meteorologist's perspective. So, my least favorite time? It's a tie between the severe weather season in the spring and hurricane season.

Roberts: Yeah, as a meteorologist, I agree with all of that, but as a person, I really enjoy the Fall because you start to notice the change in the air, and then everything looks dead for the winter for a few months here, not fun. But then I love early spring when the plants are just starting to turn green and you get the little saplings growing, and stuff's starting to bloom. And then, of course, the cars turn green and then I hate it again. When I was living in Pennsylvania for college — there's nothing like spring up there, when everything is just starting to bloom. It's like you have a foot of snow on the ground and then, next thing you know, the daffodils are popping out and it's like Easter Sunday and all the hyacinth and tulips and everything are coming up.

Carsley: It’s a cycle, like oh, really nice weather, then severe weather. And then there’s a break between hurricane season starting and ending, and then the cycle continues again.

Roberts: But as a meteorologist, it’s fascinating to watch hurricane season unfold—until it’s something that we have to worry about. 


What do you like to do on a rainy day?

Carsley: I like to read. My husband and I just bought a new house in Richmond Hill. It's so quiet. But I love to just be on the couch listening to the rain reading a good book. That's my thing. With my dog next to me. 

Roberts: Just sitting out on the patio and just watching it rain, that's kind of fun. You hear all the noise, the sound of the rain, the sound of the storm. But the unfortunate thing is, usually when there's a rainy day, excessively rainy day, or excessively stormy day with thunderstorms, we're here.


What advice do you have for staying safe this hurricane season?

Roberts: Stay aware of the forecasts whenever there's anything like a tropical wave popping up or something. We'll mention it, but as it gets closer or if it becomes more of a threat, we talk about that more so that gives yourself a little bit of lead time to to be thinking about preparing at that point.

Carsley: My main thing is about social media that comes in twofold. One, that there are so many social meteorologists out there where their main focus is not to help the public, not to protect them, but to hype up the storm and make people very anxious so they get hits on social media. So, avoid social meteorologists and focus on the National Weather Service, us. Actual people, actual meteorologists who know the forecast. Or SEMA or FEMA, people who are officials. Two, make sure that what post you see on your timeline, whether it's Facebook or Twitter, is the latest update. On Facebook, things are not in chronological order, so you might see a post where we're in the cone or we're not in the cone and you think ‘oh I'm good’ or ‘oh no panic.’ It might be five days old when you see something. So,  make sure you are looking at the latest post and that's probably my two biggest things in social media since social media is so big. 

Roberts: And then, another thing, don't be complacent. It might be a busy season or it might be a quiet season. But no matter what, people only focus on the local, and it might be a quiet season, but it only takes one storm for it to be a bad season.

Carsley: Don't focus on the storm's strength, focus on impacts. A tropical storm can be just as dangerous or as deadly as a hurricane. We saw that with Irma, where it brought in almost the exact same tidal flooding, storm tide, as Hurricane Matthew did the year prior. So just because it's a hurricane versus a tropical storm, their impacts might be different, but they can easily be equal.

Roberts: Depending on the size of the storm, the trajectory, and the timing, all that changes as far as the flooding impact. It's all very different if we get it coming in on shore during low tide versus high tide.


What’s something that most people don’t know about the work you do?

Roberts: It's more than what you see on TV. We put our own forecasts together. That's a good way. We compile our own data. We build all of our own graphics. So, for the way I look at it is for every minute we're on the air, for say a three minute weathercast, it's almost an hour of work for us.

Carsley: Also, as a female, [I feel]most times you're not taken as seriously as your male components, or you're not trusted as much, but we do the exact same work. We make our own graphics, we forecast, everything is done by hand, by any meteorologist at the station.


Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Carsley: I like this job because on the weekday morning shift, I get to be that ball of sunshine you wake up to. Even when I could be telling you the worst news in the world, I try to add in a little bit of sunshine to everyone's day. Whether it is talking about severe weather, hurricanes, or it is actually a sunny day, to me, I just want to be that happy sunshine people tune into.

Roberts: And I guess that makes me the moon. Since I'm here to put everyone to bed so that they know what to expect the next day.

Carsley: We both love our jobs. We do. And we enjoy working together.

Roberts: You have to have a good working relationship in a department like this where it’s small and you have to really rely on each other, especially when it’s a busy weather day. You have to be able to count on each other to help track the storms and prepare people or just bounce ideas off of each other. 

Carsley: So it turns into a true friendship. 

To learn more about the WSAV Storm Team 3 and keep up to date about local weather, visit wsav.com/forecast

MAKE SURE TO PICK UP A COPY OF THE JULY ISSUE OF CONNECT SAVANNAH FOR THE WSAV STORM TEAM 3 HURRICANE GUIDE!

DOWNLOAD A PDF COPY BY CLICKING HERE.

Published July 11, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

     

Chantel Britton

Chantel Britton is a compelling storyteller with an ever-growing curiosity. She's built a rewarding writing career for herself in addition to serving five years as a Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. She's an NPR nerd with a deep passion for all things travel, sustainable living and adventure. She...
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