SF meteorologist Drew Tuma never gets bored with Bay Area weather


Every morning, Drew Tuma’s alarm goes off at 3:30 a.m.

“Don’t press snooze,” he said. “Everyone who’s worked this shift is like, ‘Don’t press snooze. It’s your death.

He gets up, takes a shower, has a quick cup of coffee, and gets to work at 4 a.m. Then it’s meetings and at 5 a.m. he’s live on ABC7 telling Bay Area residents about the weather.

Earlier this year, Tuma became KGO’s weekday weathercaster after Mike Nicco moved to the noon shift after 15 years. The early start may not be an easy change for anyone, but the smiling million-watt meteorologist is typically rosy about it.

“I guess at my old age — my 30s,” he said with a smile on Zoom, “I became a morning person.”

After nearly eight years at the KGO, Tuma has become something of a local celebrity. Sometimes when he walks around the Castro, where he lives with his fiancé and his dog, he notices people staring at him.

“They’re just trying to figure out how they know your face,” he said. “So many times it happens at the grocery store… You can always come say hi. So many people have said to me afterwards, “I was too shy to come and say hello”.

But people tend to get a little bolder with their Tuma fandom behind the social media shield. Take a look at the replies from his very wholesome Twitter, where Tuma happily explains the weather conditions to his followers (or Chrissy Teigen) and springs out of the fogand you will see what I mean.

“Wtf draw tuma from abc7 news is the cutest,” exclaims one twitter user. “Anyone else have a crush on draw tuma?” demand another one.

He makes it clear he’s off the market – happily engaged to his fiancé, Joey – but “I think that’s such a compliment to someone who was so shy as a kid,” he said.

Wait, a shy kid? A man who shows his face to the entire Bay Area on television every morning for a living?

“Oh my God, like, painfully shy. I think my parents were like, ‘Is he going to grow up okay?’ Tuma joked.

But this shy kid found his calling at age seven, when a savage blizzard dumped 40 inches of snow on the Philadelphia suburbs where he grew up. School was canceled for a week. He has been hit.

“It was epic,” he says. “…And then it just piqued my interest. I was like, how is this going? What is coming together to make this happen? Will this happen again?

ABC7 meteorologist Drew Tuma poses for a photo at Pier 7 in San Francisco, California on January 19, 2022. Tuma recently moved from weekend weather forecaster to morning weatherman for KGO.Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

From then on, his way was clear – he joined the weather club in high school, then studied meteorology at Pennsylvania State University. Most meteorologists end up in government or academia, so his choice to pursue a career as a weathercaster was a bit unusual. But after an internship at the CBS station in Philadelphia, this shy former child realized that he really liked doing television.

“After that, I was just off to TV,” he said.

Many weathercasters have a background in journalism rather than meteorology, so her science degree gives her a bit of an edge.

“You’re just immersed in a different experience because you have these teachers who have so much experience in learning about the weather, and they give you so much knowledge and information about what they’ve seen, and how you can understand the atmosphere better,” Tuma said. “…So by understanding, you can identify patterns.”

He landed his first television job in Virginia, then moved to Washington, DC for another, covering all types of weather from hurricanes to tornadoes. Then, in 2014, he moved to San Francisco to join KGO. People who live in more extreme climates might not expect it, but the Bay Area weather still keeps it on its toes.

“The East Coast tends to have all the glitz and glamour… like crazy wind chills and here comes a monstrous snowstorm,” says Tuma. “And sometimes they tend to be in front of the television all the time. But if you ask anyone here, it’s just as intense when it comes to our weather.

Of course, we’re not stuck with feet of snow, but winds, wildfires, tsunamis, earthquakes (not strictly weather, but he’s got them covered) and the euphoria of predicting storms during a drought, he is never bored.

“Ooooh,” he shouts when I ask him what kind of weather excites him the most. “When there’s a good atmospheric river juicy like seven days, and you see it’s coming together. You’re like, oh, this is going to be fun.

It’s the wildfires, however, that stand out for Tuma as the most memorable days of his Bay Area career, from September 2020’s “Orange Sky Day” to the Wine Country wildfires in October 2017. He still receives messages from people years later, thanking him. for his cover which helped them evacuate the fires in time.

In the midst of reporting on a natural disaster, he says he’s often on “autopilot”, focusing on the job at hand rather than feeling the heavy emotions associated with it. But then, “it hits you weeks later,” he said, “…you’re almost unresponsive for a few weeks until you see the real consequences of something.”

While in other parts of the country the words “climate change” can be a point of contention, people in the Bay Area generally don’t need to be convinced of its reality – it’s tangible, from wildfires in their backyard to unhealthy air quality. Tuma’s role as a meteorologist is therefore to help people understand his patterns.

“We want people to understand what’s going on, why they’re seeing the things they’re seeing, why these fires are getting more destructive, why they’re getting bigger, why the droughts are getting longer, why the heat waves are getting hotter. and then hopefully take that knowledge and be able to become more resilient to climate change and then hopefully find ways to reverse global warming,” he said.

It can feel gloomy at times, but Tuma is a master at finding sunny moments in the weather, no matter how gray the day is. And it’s not just on camera, but also outside, which I realize when I have him talk about the recent rainstorms.

“I mean, you look at anybody’s face when it rains in the first big storm of the year, everybody’s like, ‘Yeah! Let’s go!'” he said, demonstrating with a wacky fist pump. “And I just think it’s so exhilarating and I love talking about it.”

On his face now lies a glimpse of that same wild-eyed wonder he experienced as a child in Philadelphia, witnessing a massive blizzard for the first time. Oscar Wilde once said that “conversation about time is the last refuge of the unimaginable”, but not when you’re talking to Tuma.


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