Hamilton, Ohio – She works primarily at predicting the future.
No mystic fortune teller, WLWT-TV Channel 5 meteorologist Randi Rico relies on high-tech equipment and science to build weather forecasts every morning for television viewers across Greater Cincinnati.
Yet for all the whirling change in the weather every day – shoot, every hour – Rico said one immutable fact holds true.
“Never hit snooze,” she said with a laugh. “If you hit snooze at 2 a.m., you’re not getting back up. Period.”
Rico – who does in fact wake up at 2 a.m. - is usually on the road to the downtown Cincinnati studios from her Loveland home by 3 and on the air at 5. She serves as the featured speaker for the Celebrating Self luncheon at the Fitton Center Wednesday, November 1.
Her interest in the science of meteorology grew out of her love for sports. Growing up in Lake County, Ohio, just east of Cleveland, Rico started watching the TV news at an early age to see how the weather impacted her softball games.
TV weather was also a way for her to fact-check her grandfather. An airplane navigator in WWII, he had an old-school barometer hanging near his front door. He often told little Randi what she could expect outside just from a quick glance at the instrument.
“I’d look at that barometer and think ‘I want to know how he knows that,’” Rico said. “That was how I first learned about atmospheric pressure.”
She went to Ohio University to play softball and study at the renowned Scripps School of Journalism with the thought of becoming a sports broadcaster.
Classes in meteorology changed her mind.
“The science of it is kind of like a sport for me,” Rico said. “There’s a lot of preparation, a lot of planning, but then there’s always some variable and you have to adjust.”
Plus, it’s a competitive business.
“We are in a part of the country where the weather doesn’t change day to day, it changes minute to minute. You can get all four seasons in a day. There are so many different places people can get the weather and we’re all trying to be the source for the accurate information people need to stay safe.”
After 20 years on the air – 17 at Channel 5 – the biggest change lies with the technology Rico uses every day. Improved radar capability coupled with more and better satellites provides infinitely more information than grandpa’s old barometer.
“Getting more data is always a good thing,” she said. “All of that gives us more information to create the best forecast. The five- to seven-day forecast now is as accurate as the 24- to 48-hour forecast 20 years ago.”
Tickets to the November 1 Celebrating Self luncheon are $21 for Fitton Center members, $25 for non-members. Tickets are available online right here, by phone at 513-863,-8873, ext. 110 or in person at the Fitton Center box office.
Doors to the Carruthers Signature Ballroom on the third floor open at 11 a.m. with a lunch buffet served by Fitton Center catering partner Two Women in a Kitchen starting at 11:30; Rico’s program begins at noon.
The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is located at 101 S. Monument Avenue on the Riverfront in downtown Hamilton, Ohio.
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