These women are keeping you safe through hurricane season

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Harvey, Irma, Maria, they were all devastating storms that hit the U.S. last year.

Now, with the start of the hurricane season, meteorologist Elita Loresca sat down with a few of the women of the National Weather Service to discuss the upcoming season, and how the ladies are a growing group entering the science field.

It was what Katie Landry-Guyton saw during one of the country's most devastating hurricanes, along with a fear and awe of the power of storms, that first stirred her interest in weather.

"In high school I actually went through Hurricane Katrina, and during that event I really saw the nature and power of water. So, while I was going to school to be a meteorologist, I really grasped onto the flooding aspect," Landry-Guyton said.

For Melissa Huffman, her father's survival of an F-four Wichita Falls tornado in 1979 led her to forecasting.

"This was really violent. Really significant tornado, and was actually the tornado where meteorologist realized that the interior room was the safest room of a building," Huffman said.

As a child living in North Carolina, Katie Macgee's fascination for weather began with Hurricane Fran, a storm that tore up the east coast.

"It came through and I remember there was a tree that fell over our driveway, and I just thought it was the coolest thing because whenever we drive anywhere we drive on the grass, and that was just so crazy. So what, what type of power, what forces could knock that tree over," Macgee said.

These three girls, now women, share a common bond. With hundreds of hours of schooling under their belts, their love for weather has brought them together in the same town as meteorologists for the National Weather Service.

"I think it was just the perfect combination of my love for communication and also science and working with people and also doing the research side of things as well. And so it just drew everything together," Macgee said.

"Our job here is, you know, protection of life and property and putting out the best warnings we can put out and communicating as much as we can about how the forecast is changing," Huffman told Eyewitness News.

Their office is changing too. Jeff Evans, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Houston, says more women studying STEM - science, technology, engineering and math - means more women in weather. In recent years, he's hired seven employees, six have been women.

"The talent of female meteorologist coming out of school and interested in the National Weather Service, just been tremendous over the last 10 to 15 years," Evan said.

"We've more than tripled the number of women that we have here on station, and it's really great because it helps kind of build a sense of community when you're going through these really tough weather events," Huffman added.

Through storms and floods, more changes in the industry lie ahead. For the next generation of young scientists, these meteorologists offer some advice.

"Be your own role model. Have that confidence in yourself and other people will see you shine and know that you can do this and other people can do it as well," Macgee said.

"If you're interested in it, keep going for it. Keep asking questions," Huffman added.

"It might not always be easy, but as long as you stay true to who you are and you stay true to what you want and what you desire, you can get where you want to go," Landry explained.
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