After weathering the storms of last year, we wondered what the outlook is for 2012. To answer some of this year's hottest questions we turned to the city's top forecasters - our chief meteorologists. After all, they make a living looking into the future, and how different can cultural tempests be from the hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards they've followed their entire careers?
Paul Barys knew he had a future in forecasting since his teens, but his on-air talent almost never came to fruition. After sending his resume to more than 500 television stations across the country, it was the last possible studio in Washington, N.C. that gave him a shot. At the time most weathermen on TV were announcers instead of meteorologists, chosen for their deep and melodic voices, explains Barys.
"I knew I didn't have a tremendous voice so I was at a disadvantage because that's what they expected," he recalls. "But there were a few news directors that were forward thinking and knew if they could get an authority figure in there, it would translate to higher ratings."
Before television Barys did a brief stint with a private weather service - his most interesting client being a Midwestern bakery. Apparently the hotter the temperature, the less bread they sold. He and his colleagues once predicted a blizzard that saved the bakers more money than what they paid for the service in a year.
Now a fixture in the meteorology community, Barys is continually scanning our horizons as chief meteorologist for the Channel 3 Eyewitness News Storm Alert Team, a job he took in 1985. He raised his two daughters here, Jaime and Maggie, and lives in Red Bank with his wife, Sarah.
What will be Kim Kardashian's next publicity stunt?
Patrick Core predicts a pregnancy. David Glenn thinks she'll either buy the L.A. Dodgers or jump into a music career - mainly because it's one of the last entertainment frontiers left for the reality TV diva. Paul Bary's prediction borders on wishful thinking. "Getting lost and staying lost - that'd be great," he laughs.
Who will take the 2012 Super Bowl by storm?
Both Paul and Patrick pick Green Bay but David chooses the Saints as champions. "Green Bay is the hot one going right now but it's hard for a team to go undefeated," he surmises. Paul does concede that possibility. "If they don't win it's because of injuries," he says.
When will the royal couple get pregnant?
Paul doesn't offer an exact year for a royal bump but expects it will happen when his oldest daughter, Maggie, decides to take the plunge. She was born the same year as William and was wed around the same time as well. Patrick predicts two years. David foresees next year.
A Chickamauga native, David Glenn has been keeping an eye on Chattanooga's skies since age 8 when an outbreak of tornadoes spurred his fascination with weather. His first television "job" came as early as high school, serving as a Weather Watcher for Channel 9. Today he's chief meteorologist for that same station - a position he describes as his dream job.
"Channel 9 was the first in the area to hire a true meteorologist, and just being a Weather Watcher all those years I decided it was the job I someday wanted," he says. "Sometimes I have to pinch myself."
But it isn't just the station that has Glenn counting his lucky stars. "I really enjoy what I do - my hobby is my job," he says. "There's not a half hour that goes by that I don't check what's going on with the weather. It's always in flux and that's what constantly fascinates me. It's a never-ending learning process."
Before returning to his hometown in 2006, Glenn spent eight years on the Gulf Coast, earning awards for his coverage of Hurricanes Ivan, Dennis and Katrina. He's also been awarded the prestigious Seal of Approval for broadcasting from the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association. He and his wife, Rebecca, have two teenage sons, Jack and Carter.
How much milk and bread is enough?
"Enough to make French toast for a family of four...with a side of snow cream!" jokes David. According to Patrick, this month is our biggest possibility for severe winter weather. "It all depends on the inches of snowfall predicted and how hilly your subdivision is," Paul says with a smile.
Which is more accurate: the groundhog, the wooly worm or the weather beetle?
Patrick picks the wooly worm. Paul settles on the groundhog. David chooses none of the above. "The weather rock beats them all," he says. "You hang it on your porch and if it's wet, it's raining. If it's white, it's snowing."
How many nights will it rain at Riverbend?
Patrick and David bet on two nights of rainfall during the city's largest outdoor concert, basing it on the average of the past few years. Paul gambles on one.
The Oscar for Best Picture?
Patrick thinks the Academy will be bitten with vampire fever, choosing Twilight's Breaking Dawn flick as the winner. Paul settles on either Melancholia or Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. For David, it's The Descendants.
Patrick Core landed his job at Channel 12 in a way he probably never could've predicted. The year was 1990 and Core was working in Atlanta for The Weather Channel. He had expressed interest when an old college friend approached him with the opportunity, but a late night phone call actually sealed the deal.
"I was working a late evening shift and he called to ask if I was still interested," Core remembers. "I said yes and he said, 'Well, we need you to do the 11 o'clock show.'" Core was picked up from Atlanta, rushed to the station about a half hour before cameras rolled and put on live with little coaching - except for telling the Louisiana native how to pronounce LaFayette in these parts. "That was an odd way of getting interviewed," he laughs.
Core's foray into forecasting seemed equally fateful. A construction accident during his senior year of high school sidelined his dreams of a football or baseball career, leading him to pursue meteorology instead. "It was just God giving me a plan for something else," says Core. "Everything worked out and I'm really blessed for it."
In addition to his position as Channel 12's chief meteorologist, Core owns the Tri-State Weather Network, which provides daily forecasts for more than 20 radio stations in the area. He's been married 23 years to wife Kathy, and they have three children, Christine, Travis and Josh.
How many times will the government threaten to shut down?
Patrick estimates the government will continue last year's high jinks and threaten to shut down twice in 2012. Since it's an election year David doesn't foresee any gridlock. Paul probably sums it up best with his speculation. "Not enough," he says.
What direction will the winds of fashion take?
Long dresses for women and top hats for men are Paul's picks. Patrick bets on longer hair. David looks to decades past for his prediction. "Tight jeans have already made a comeback so I'm thinking the bright colors of the '80s have to be right around the corner."
Who will win the BCS championship game?
David, Paul and Patrick all agree that LSU will remain undefeated with a win over Alabama to claim the BCS title.