Doug Kammerer has caught his 13-year-old son asking Alexa for a weather forecast more than once. “Are you kidding me?” Kammerer will say. “That’s who you’re going to ask?”
“Makes me so mad,” he says with a laugh. “At that age, your parents don’t know anything.”
The NBC4 chief meteorologist admits that his wife, Holly, and two kids—Kenton and 10-year-old daughter Cally—don’t tune in regularly for his forecasts. But plenty of other people do. Kammerer is so beloved by locals that his son makes him wear a hat to Nationals and Capitals games so he isn’t easily recognized. During the holiday season, residents send in photos of their light displays with hopes that Kammerer will broadcast live from their homes. He does “Backyard Weather” forecasts from local pool parties and barbecues in the summer. His team set up a green screen at a family cookout in North Potomac last year, and he finished off his forecast with a plate of ribs.
Kammerer, 44, has been obsessed with weather since he was in third grade and a lightning bolt struck dangerously close to his house in Herndon, Virginia. In 10th grade, he interviewed longtime NBC4 meteorologist Bob Ryan, his role model, for a school project. As a young meteorologist in Florida, Kammerer enjoyed the thrill of chasing hurricanes. He later landed a job in Philadelphia, but always hoped to return home. When Ryan left the station in 2010, Kammerer was hired as his replacement. He bought a house in Chevy Chase, 4 miles from work, so he can run home to see his family between the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts—and so he can always get to work in a snowstorm.
We caught up with Kammerer at home on a rainy afternoon in November.
What’s it like to work at the news station you watched as a child?
It’s pretty amazing. I think the biggest thing for me was the first time I ever sat down with Jim Vance and Doreen Gentzler on the set for the 6 o’clock news. It was just a really surreal moment. All of a sudden, you’re looking from a different angle—you’re there with them, instead of looking at them on the television.
What can you tell people about the weather that they can’t get from an app?
I think the biggest thing is that we’re able to explain it and show the impact that it’s going to have directly on you. Let’s say it’s Thursday afternoon and you’ve got a party set up for 30 people outdoors at your house and there’s a chance for rain. Well, the app is going to tell you you’ve got a 40% chance of rain. But only a meteorologist, only somebody that’s in front of you on television, can actually tell you what the chances are for that party. Should I have it outside? Do I need to get a tent? I would not make that decision based on an app. You need somebody to help you with that. Not only am I on TV doing that, people can ask me directly; they can ask me on my Facebook page, they can ask me on Twitter.
What do you think of Montgomery County Public Schools’ decisions about closing schools?
Most of the time, even when I’m forecasting a good storm where I think they should close the night before, they will wait to make that call until 5 o’clock in the morning. And that puts a lot of parents in a jam as far as what to do with the kids. It makes it very hard to plan. I would love to see them make that call a little bit earlier. If I’m making the forecast at 4 or 5 o’clock at night, I can tell you what it’s going to be like at 4 or 5 in the morning. I can say if we need to cancel or not.
We’ve seen you on TV eating wings. Can you tell us about your superstition?
I started eating Buffalo wings for the Capitals games, and they started winning. Our sports producer at the station started getting wings for every game, and they kept winning, and all of a sudden I’m doing live shots and having wings brought to me from Penn Quarter Sports Tavern [in Northwest, D.C.]. They would bring me a whole thing of wings, and I’d eat them on the air. We won every game [when] I ate them on the set. I did it for the Mystics and they won, and I did it for the Nationals and they won. I kept that going all the way through the World Series. I love wings, and it has to be Buffalo. It has to be about 10 wings, eight to 10 wings, has to be ranch dressing—and I cannot share at all.
Written by Leigh McDonald