How I Learned My Old Meteorology Teacher Was Really Ripping

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ORLANDO, Florida. – Thinking back to my college years before becoming News 6 meteorologist and Riff On This podcast host Samara Cokinos, there were many memorable moments, but one really stood out: Being a student of Dr Lou McNally at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach.

He was fun, yet meticulous, as he taught students how to provide a prediction on the green screen. Heck, he’s done everything from weather radio to TV news for over 40 years, often sharing snippets of his life along the way, like his radio name at WBLM in Portland, Maine—Altitude Lou.

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After my summer internship here at News 6 in 2012, I moved to Boston. Three classmates, Dr. McNally and myself, were traveling to the Broadcast Meteorology Conference where we had the opportunity to present a research project in front of many professional meteorologists. Little did I know that on this trip I would learn something amazing about our favorite teacher.

Group photo at the Broadcast Meteorology Conference in Boston summer 2012 presenting research. Pictured L-R: Students Stephen Shiveley, Samara Cokinos, Amber Macchia with their teacher at the time, Dr Lou McNally (holding the microphone). (WKMG)

It all started when we had downtime, which many weather conferences fill with activities to keep attendees busy.

One of those nights we went to a baseball game at Fenway. Boston was Dr. McNally’s old stomping grounds, so to and from the game he showed us a lot of sights around the city.

As we were walking down Yawkey Way after the game, towards the subway, we saw a man drumming on overturned buckets. Our group was surprised to see our teacher walk over to the man and start playing with him. We clapped and kept walking, not really thinking about what had just happened.

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Dr. Lou McNally playing bucket drums with a street performer in Boston in the summer of 2012. (WKMG)

Walking down the stairs to the subway platform, there was yet another musician playing a guitar with his guitar case open, collecting donations. At first I thought Dr. McNally was going to drop some change in the man’s guitar case, but I was wrong. Dr. McNally actually asked the man if he could play his guitar, to which he replied, “Sure, why not?”

We were in awe of the beautiful blues and rock music flowing from the guitar. More and more people stood up and listened to the awesome tunes our teacher was playing. Even the musician was impressed by her talent, her eyes lighting up as the donations in the case started rolling in. When the set was over, the musician beamed as he said to Dr. McNally, “Thanks for playing.” He said that the few songs our teacher was playing made him more money than he had all night.

Dr. Lou McNally playing a musician’s guitar at the subway entrance in Boston in 2012. (WKMG)

Dr McNally smiled with a laugh in his voice as he thanked the man for letting him “sit down”. Everyone could see how much he loved the music and that moment stuck with me all these years. So I phoned my old teacher to find out if he would come for an interview.

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Riff On This host meteorologist Samara Cokinos interviews her former meteorology professor, Dr. Lou McNally, in episode 7. (WKMG)

Be sure to tune in to Episode 7 of Riff On This to hear all about Altitude Lou and his music and weather journey in the media player above.

Until then, I thought the only way to properly end this article would be to use Dr. McNally’s byline. So on that note, “And this is what it looks like from here.”

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