Count on Dave: How Forecasting Has Evolved in Dave's 40 Years at KSTP

July 18, 2017 03:55 PM

One of the best ways to illustrate Dave Dahl's longevity as a meteorologist in the Twin Cities is to look at how technology around him has changed over the years.

Dave began working at KSTP back on July 29, 1977.


This summer 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is celebrating four decades of Minnesotans being able to "Count on Dave." Check out our page for past stories and complete coverage.

Needless to say, weather forecasting has evolved significantly since then.

When Dave first started at Channel 5, he joined eight other meteorologists to form what was billed as the "largest television weather service in the world."

"You don't see that size of a weather office anymore," said former KSTP Chief Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen, who now works for the National Hurricane Center in Miami

Feltgen says a nine-person department was needed just to get the weathercasts on the air.

"So much is automated now," Feltgen said. "Back then, we had to draw everything by hand. We analyzed the maps, we took the magic marker and went into the studio along with a paper map, and we put the fronts on and the highs and the lows."

However, Dave and the others' ability to predict weather took a big step forward in 1981 with the arrival of Doppler radar at KSTP.

"I remember the cranes putting up that great big globe on top of the infrastructure on the front lawn where it still stands," former KSTP anchor and News Director Stan Turner said.

KSTP was the first commercial television station in the country to have its own Doppler radar.

"I almost felt sorry for the National Weather Service," said Turner, who these days hosts a show on KLBB radio. "That's a government entity and we had better equipment than they did."

As the years went on, forecasting became more and more high tech.

For example, satellite images would come in two to four hours after the picture was taken in the late 1970s - when Dave first started working at KSTP.

Dave now gets fresh photos from space every minute.

"It was hard to have any accuracy with a forecast out to three days 30 to 40 years ago," said Dan Luna, the Meteorologist in Charge at the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.  "Today, our accuracy is stellar out to seven days and even beyond.

In 2017, the nine-person weather department is long gone. So too are hand-drawn maps.

But with all that's changed over the past four decades, one thing's remained the same:

Dave Dahl.

Forty years of experience in keeping people in Minnesota and western Wisconsin safe.

"One of the things I think of is his passion for weather," said Todd Krause with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.  "It's just clearly obvious. When you see him presenting the weather, he enjoys it. You can see that.  That's one of the things that's really neat to see and he's kept that up through the years."

"David's a master of speaking plain English," added Turner. "No jargon. You know exactly what he's saying. You know exactly what the weather is going to be because he's explained it to you in a way we can all understand."

"I am thrilled beyond belief that (Dave) has stuck with it all these years, and to come up on 40 years, man, that's amazing," Feltgen said.



Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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