Ryan Hoke, an 18-year-old senior at duPont Manual High School, knows what he's going to study in college -- meteorology.
He is already working on his camera presence as a weatherman on his Web site, Ryan Weather. Each Saturday, Ryan, who lives with his parents and siblings near Fisherville, heads for the upstairs loft near his bedroom to shoot his own three-minute weather segment.
He then edits it and uploads it to his Web site and Vimeo, a video-sharing site similar to YouTube. His forecast is seen by 200 to 300 people a week.
"I think this is number 83 or 84, so I've almost got it down to a science now. ... No notes, no TelePrompTer. It's all up there," Hoke said, pointing to his head after delivering his video forecast on Jan. 3.
He also creates his own professional-looking graphics, which are displayed on a high-definition TV screen behind him, along with radar images and the seven-day forecast.
He saves the "long, drawn-out explanations" of atmospheric science for his blog, ryanweather.blogspot.com.
Ryan credits a January 2007 job shadow with former WHAS-TV meteorologist Ken Schulz with sparking his idea to start his own weather Web site.
"Ken Schulz told me this is not the prettiest of job fields. You have to have options one, two and three because there are few TV stations around the country hiring a meteorologist at a particular time," Hoke said.
He later appeared in WAVE-TV meteorologist John Belski's backyard during a forecast following another job shadow of a local weatherman.
Last year, Ryan traveled for free in Tornado Alley as a volunteer guide and radar operator for Storm Chasing Adventure Tours (stormchasing.com), a company that takes customers on treks in search of powerful thunderstorms.
While he has been fascinated and even terrified by storms since age 5, Ryan initially was focused on becoming a pilot like his father, Ken Hoke, who flies for UPS.
But in 2005, his parents became cooperative weather observers for the National Weather Service, which installed a weather station on a pole in his front yard.
Ryan since has had easy access to localized temperature, wind, precipitation and other readings from the weather station that lets him view the conditions anytime. Ken Hoke also made these readings available on their subdivision's Web site.
Ryan said readings from the gauges outside his home often differ from official weather service data gathered at Louisville International Airport. This is because of the heat-island effect, which explains why urban areas with lots of pavement retain more heat than rural ones.
"We're usually 2 to 3 degrees cooler out here than the airport, which can make a big difference if you're talking about whether it will rain or snow. Sometimes it's 5 to 10 degrees off what is being recorded at the airport," he said.
Because of this difference, Ryan tries to include information about suburban weather in his video forecasts. He said his readings are "closer to what most people in suburban Louisville" are experiencing.
Like other pilots, Ken Hoke relies heavily on accurate, up-to-date weather service data to chart his course. And he also has looked to the skies since an early age.
"I've been a weather nut since I was a kid," he said.
But he won't take credit for Ryan's interest in weather.
"He's a total self-starter who dreams up all of this stuff himself. He really took off after we got the weather station," he said.
Ryan plans to attend Mississippi State University in the fall to major in broadcast meteorology.
Photographer Arza Barnett