Robert Fovell is a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at UCLA. Before participating in a panel that demystified the Santa Ana Winds, he explained the four L.A. seasons, revealed his number-one source for weather forecasts, and offered up his favorite flower in the Zócalo green room.
What’s your favorite season?
That’s a good question. When I first moved to Los Angeles I was told that the four seasons in L.A. are fires, floods, earthquakes, and freeway closures. I think that my favorite season would be freeway closures—if I get to stay home.
What keeps you up at night?
When the Santa Ana Winds blow, the wind keeps me up at night because it shakes the house. So as a meteorologist I should have known better before I moved into a wind corridor, but probably subliminally, I wanted to live in a place where it was windy.
It’s your last meal. What do you order?
Steak. Because I figure it couldn’t hurt me anymore.
Who or what do you root for?
I root for the Cubs—the Chicago Cubs—and that explains a lot about me.
Where do you get your weather from?
I get it from the web, and I make my own numerical simulations. There are an enormous number of places you can get weather from, including government websites and private parties.
Do you have a favorite source?
Weather.rap.ucar.edu. I hope I don’t mess up the URL; I don’t type it, I just click it. It’s like my phone number—I don’t know my phone number.
Describe your ideal Sunday morning.
I wake up, I make coffee, and I check to see how successful my simulations were that I made overnight. That sounds really boring … but it can be exciting.
What’s hanging on your living room walls?
Pictures that I photographed. I have photographs of flowers, hummingbirds, and landscapes. I have particularly photographed Yosemite.
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
Do you have a favorite plant or flower?
We have a plant in the backyard called the night-blooming cereus. The flower is about as big as your hand, it opens after sunset, and it blooms for one night. It’s very fragrant, and it’s a strikingly beautiful flower.