Most days, meteorologist Jim Duncan has a typical day: report on a sunny day, a cloudy day, a rainy day, a windy day.
Then come the clipper days.
“You gotta love a good clipper,” Duncan, a 28-year veteran at NBC12, says of the fast-moving cold weather systems that move into the eastern U.S. from their origin in Canada’s Alberta province. “Mentioning to viewers that ‘we got a clipper coming in’ really does get me going, every time.”
And for Duncan, that time is now.
With high pressure building this afternoon and rains on the way, Richmond will be caught in the middle of a “perfect storm” of two weather systems, “bringing a clipper that will brush north of the area and hug the Virginia coastline,” Duncan says.
Adds the 58-year-old: “Clippers are so frigging awesome, and I’m pretty stoked about this latest one.”
It’s a frequent statement from Duncan, albeit one that isn’t partial to the well-seasoned meteorologist. Though his love of clippers and clipper-related phrases runs deep, a recent study by Pew Research found that more than 90 percent of meteorologists enjoy using the term without any intention of further defining it for viewers.
“Leaving it undefined makes the term sound all the more sinister that way,” notes WRIC Channel 8 meteorologist John Bernier, who says he’ll continue to the phrase despite a 2004 survey that claimed nearly 94 percent of Americans have no idea what a clipper is – though most admitted that “it sounded pretty fast,” “it will probably kill us all,” or “is perhaps a type of weather system that looks like a pirate ship.”
Need further proof? Take Duncan’s weather report from Friday night: “We got a clipper coming in tonight,” he boldly stated, without expanding or further describing the Pacific Ocean air that runs over the mountains of British Columbia, forms a chinook in Alberta, then slides into the jet stream to bring cold wind gusts of up to 65 miles-per-hour. “Gonna get chilly out there, folks.”
Though Duncan says “clippers” are his “most favoritest” winter weather term, he says he undoubtedly considers his No. 2 phrase as the summer’s highly-elusive “red flag warning.”
“Which,” Duncan explains with a grin, “you don’t even want to know what that means.”