Lovely weather for ducks
Reporting from a deflating hot air balloon. Presenting alongside Kermit the Frog. That's all in a day's work for broadcast meteorologist Laura Tobin. It's a job involving focus, commitment and in-depth knowledge - not to mention the ability to cope with extremely early mornings.
Laura Tobin fell in love with the weather aged 14 when she found herself pretending to be air in a geography lesson. "My teacher divided the class into cold and warm air and had us running around like lunatics, showing us how a jet stream works. At that point, I knew I wanted to be a weather forecaster."
She contacted the Met Office to find out which GCSEs and A-levels she'd need to get there. A few years later, she began a physics and meteorology degree at the University of Reading.
Met Office alumna
All the hard work paid off as Laura achieved her goal of joining the Met Office - beginning at Cardiff Weather Centre before returning to RAF Brize Norton, where she'd trained. Her day-to-day job involved briefing crews that fly all around the world.
A detachment at Northwood involved producing NATO forecasts in conjunction with the Royal Navy.
"I never wanted to be a TV weather presenter," Laura remembers. "That just sort of happened." It was while she was at Northwood that a BBC six-month maternity cover contract cropped up.
"From quick Radio One bulletins to farming forecasts on Radio Four, I got to talk to all different audiences - I loved it so much that I stayed."
Waking the nation
Today, Laura's the weather expert on ITV's Good Morning Britain - which means early starts. She rises at 3.25am, leaving home five minutes later. On the cab ride in she checks emails, the news and social media, getting up to speed with the world's weather. "Every day I listen to what people are talking about - in the office, on Twitter, on the street - and in my broadcasts I try to answer the questions they're asking," Laura says.
At 4am she calls the Met Office Media Team, running through weather graphics, charts or any special information she's asked for the night before. 4.20am sees Laura arriving at work, stopping first at the newsroom to talk through the upcoming broadcast. After that there's just time for hair, makeup and microphones before it's into the studio, ready to go live at 6am sharp.
Never work with animals... or balloons
Around half of Laura's broadcasts are studio-based. The rest of the time, she's on the road - and on her toes, having presented from Disneyland Paris to Shetland, from roller coasters to zoos.
"I was once feeding animals ahead of a live feature from Yorkshire Wildlife Park," she remembers, "but I began my forecast forgetting I was still holding a carrot. Before I knew it, a llama was jumping up desperately trying to get it from my hand!"
Keeping a straight face can be a struggle, but the moment the camera comes on, Laura's utterly focused. "I simply bent down, gave the llama the carrot and carried on with the weather. You have to be good at multi-tasking as a forecaster."
Highlights for Laura include presenting from Buckingham Palace and HMS Britannia the morning the Queen was naming her. She's also presented with Steve Carell, aka Brick Tamland from Anchorman, as well as Sooty and Sweep.
On another occasion, Laura was broadcasting from a soaring hot air balloon when the studio asked her, via her earpiece, to subtly stop the pilot firing the noisy engine. "The next thing I know, we're floating down until suddenly we hit the ground and the cameraman falls over. I had to finish the forecast, apologise and reassure viewers that we were ok - in one breath."
Since the early days of Laura's career, getting the weather message out to the public has changed drastically. Earlier this year, to put the summer's weather in context, Good Morning Britain broadcast live from the Met Office Operations Centre using Globelynx, a system that can send on-demand broadcasts anywhere in the world.
Laura embraces new technology to keep connected with audiences. "People want to know about the science behind the forecasts. If there's not time on air, I put extra content online - whether that's a 15-second weather alert Vine or plots showing the outlook for the month."