For the last seven years, peppy mom of one Lauryn Ricketts has easily done what many of us would need A LOT of coffee to accomplish – wake up in the dead of night to be on the air very early before most alarms go off to forecast the weather. Ricketts has relished every drop of her career in an unusual field as a broadcast meteorologist for NBC4Washington and 103.5 WTOP radio.
Achieving her goal of becoming a meteorologist
Born in Winchester and now living in Alexandria, Virginia, Ricketts knew she wanted to be a meteorologist when she was very young. “My dad watched the weather [for many years] and I knew I wanted to be a meteorologist when I was around 6 or 7. From a young age, I’ve loved science. I was constantly digging up stuff,” explains Ricketts. An interesting aspect of knowing she wanted to be a meteorologist was realizing she would one day be on TV and mentally preparing for that role. Ricketts took steps to achieve her goals and received a Bachelor of Science in environmental studies with a concentration in meteorology. She was excited to intern for meteorologist Sue Palka at Fox 5 and then became the chief meteorologist at TV3 in Winchester, Va.
In her early days, Ricketts did a lot of work behind the scenes with graphics and assisting with the forecast. After working for many years in different stations throughout the mid-Atlantic region, Ricketts became a meteorologist on weekend mornings on NBC4 television and on weekdays with WTOP radio.
In her role as meteorologist on NBC4, Ricketts forecasts the weather independently based on her own research and educational background, but she insists the job is a collaborative effort with the other StormTeam4 meteorologists.
A typical forecast routine
When asked how she forecasts, Ricketts explained how she follows a series of repetitive actions to fulfill her job. Each morning after the alarm goes off, she gets up, takes a shower and starts the process of forecasting. According to Ricketts, “I look outside first before I get in the shower (fog, wet roads, etc.). Then I read the forecast from the previous met [meteorologist] then visit the NWS [National Weather Service] website to make sure there are no watches/warnings/advisories in our area that I need to alert viewers or listeners about.”
Though she reads the forecast from the night before, Ricketts assesses her sources to create her own weather forecast and sends it by email to the other meteorologists at the station. At every point along the chain, all meteorologists know the forecast that came before them in order to slightly tweak it for the next forecast. A process, notes Ricketts, that is essential because she “can’t make up the weather forecast … we have to make sure the trend is following the trend.”
Having a job in the public eye
When Ricketts decided at the age of 6 that she wanted to be a meteorologist, she knew she would be on TV and prepared her whole life for it, eventually landing lucrative internships, leading to behind-the-scenes work with meteorologists, and eventually moving to on-air meteorologist positions. For the most part, Ricketts always manifested an exuberance that translated well to her on-air job on TV. However, two years ago in 2020, she faced a problem that would challenge her happiness and her ability to do her job in the public eye.
Late in 2019, Ricketts became pregnant and was expecting her first child. She and her husband were beyond ecstatic at the thought of becoming new parents. Ricketts worked as a meteorologist right through her pregnancy, with her growing belly delighting audiences throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Since Ricketts was already well known and adored by many fans who tuned in to catch her weather forecast, many already knew about Ricketts’s pregnancy and constantly sent her well wishes. On February 24, 2020, the unthinkable happened. Ricketts had a stillborn baby at 21 weeks.
At the time Ricketts’s water broke, her husband was deployed in Afghanistan. Several of her coworkers helped her in her time of need. Ricketts is grateful to Adam Tuss, Erika Gonzalez, Amelia Draper and Melissa Mollet. “My work was completely supportive … we ended up doing a Facebook live where I told the viewers I lost the baby,” says Ricketts. Unfortunately, later the same year, Ricketts would end up having a miscarriage at roughly four to five weeks’ gestation. Around that time, she visited a specialty clinic in D.C. to begin in vitro fertilization procedures. Ricketts’s doctor informed her she was at a higher risk of losing her baby because she was trying to become pregnant at a later age. Ricketts concedes it was harder to become pregnant after the age of 36, but says she doesn’t regret starting a family late to focus on her career.
A Break in the Clouds
The fertility procedures worked and Ricketts was expecting once again. On January 27, 2022, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Crew and is enjoying every moment of motherhood during her four months of maternity leave from NBC4. She is enthusiastic about returning to work in July and is busy taking care of her newborn while arranging for baby care for when she starts working again. In addition, Ricketts is proud of her work on the board of directors for Aaliyah in Action, a D.C. charity that provides bereavement boxes of self-care items and resources to help mothers who have lost their babies.
It’s sunny skies ahead for this inspiring meteorologist mom!