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I've been a forecaster for nearly 20 years now, but I can still remember my first Christmas as a meteorologist. I was hired for a weekend position, which meant that most weekends I was "on the job". And naturally, I always worked on Thanksgiving and Christmas. My first year was especially busy, as I worked 13 consecutive days from Christmas eve through the New Year. No complaints- I was simply "paying my dues".

Now that my hours are a little more conducive to a normal schedule, I really appreciate the ability to spend time with family. Our son will be 2 years old in a few months, so Christmas is a really special time for us. But even with our new arrival, we still experienced the pain of losing loved ones through the years. You never know when you will see someone for the last time, so don't try to make every holiday memory "perfect". Learn to be content with simplicity, and never lose track of the real reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

And speaking of Christmas, there will be no snow flakes for us this year. In many ways, the past 18 months have resembled the weather pattern in 1983/84. December 1983 was one of the coldest on record in Wilmington, with overnight lows dropping to 10 degrees on at least one night. The following spring (1984) was marked by the record setting Carolina Tornado Outbreak (22 tornadoes, 57 fatalities). December 1984 was extremely warm, with highs in the 80's.

Compare those numbers to 2010/2011. December 2010 was one of the coldest on record, with a rare Christmas weekend snowstorm. Spring 2011 was marked by the largest local tornado outbreak in nearly 30 years. And by December, near-record highs in the upper 70's were reported.

Hopefully, we will see a quieter year in 2012. I guess all meteorologists wish for quiet years, at least those who have worked long enough to appreciate the value of a "quiet" year. Regardless, I wish you all a safe and Merry Christmas.


By: Jerry Jackson