Growing up in Houston, Chris Ramirez was aware that weather events, such as hurricanes and flooding could have a major impact on people’s lives.
“The atmospheric processes that happen every day and affect everybody is something that I was so interested in even at a young age,” Ramirez said.
Watching chief meteorologist Tim Heller on ABC 13, he admired how Heller used his knowledge and skills to inform the public and keep them safe.
It was this interest that would lead Ramirez to the Mickey Leland Environmental Internship Program at TCEQ and an eventual mentorship with his professional idol.
Ramirez attended Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, majoring in environmental science with a concentration in policy and regulation. Attending school on an island where he saw marine biology labs and wildlife every day solidified his interest in the environment.
When one of Ramirez’s environmental science professors told students about the MLEIP, Ramirez knew he wanted to apply. TCEQ’s Corpus Christi Regional Office is located on the campus, making it very attractive to students.
Ramirez was accepted as an intern in TCEQ’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement, where he learned the systems behind processing water and air permits. He’d previously learned about water treatment firsthand from his dad who works at Dow Chemical’s wastewater treatment plant. At TCEQ, Ramirez was able to learn about the regulatory side of wastewater treatment plants by accompanying environmental investigators on comprehensive compliance investigations.
But what really stood out during his time in the MLEIP was creating graphics for a major ongoing investigation that was being brought forward by the Attorney General.
“The lead environmental investigator told me I was really good at graphic making and that’s what I do now,” Ramirez said. “Ninety percent of my job now is making weather graphics so people can easily understand what’s going on with the weather.”
He uses two types of weather graphics to explain the weather to viewers: map and studio graphics, which are made using Baron Lynx software.
Map graphics use satellite and radar data to show what is going on weather-wise using satellite and radar products from NOAA and NASA, as well Baron Lynx.
Studio graphics are any weather graphics without a map, often used to make weather more relatable to folks at home, such as dog walking or jogging forecasts.
“I usually start off by being aware of events or activities that are going on around me and create weather graphics that cater to those events,” Ramirez said about designing graphics for viewers. “When I first got into the news business, I quickly learned that viewers and the public do not want to hear textbook meteorology terminology. They just want to know if it is going to rain or not.”
After graduation, with his eye still on meteorology, he attended Mississippi State University for a second bachelor’s degree in broadcast and operational meteorology. He was drawn back to Texas when he was offered a meteorology internship in Houston at KTRK-TV, where he worked alongside his inspiration, Heller, who is now a mentor to him.
Following his internship at KTRK-TV, Ramirez was offered a position as the KSAN weekend broadcast meteorologist/digital content producer in San Angelo, where he was eventually promoted to chief meteorologist.
Now, Ramirez connects his knowledge of the environment and meteorology as a meteorologist with KVEO-TV’s Valley Storm Team in the Rio Grande Valley by forecasting weather, creating graphics for weathercasts, and ensuring the station’s digital webpages are up to date.
“Reporters are always going to the meteorologists when it comes to any story related to earth science, even if it’s unrelated to meteorology or weather, and my environmental degree and my environmental internship have definitely prepared me for that,” Ramirez said. “A few weeks ago, there was a junkyard fire and it was important for me to know how the different meteorological processes going on really affect the environment.”
While his roles at TCEQ and on TV news may not seem similar on the surface, there’s a common thread.
“Public safety is the main priority,” Ramirez said. “It’s rewarding for me to know the work I do has an impact that’s much bigger than myself. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to serve the public both as an intern and now as a meteorologist. I can have a bad day at work, but that’s totally erased when I get messages from the public thanking me for the information that I’ve shared with them.