The familiar voices of local forecasters who announcecoastal weather conditions over VHF frequencies will soon be giving way to the droning synthesized voice normally associated with the Coast Guard’s HF SSB high-seas forecastssometimes known as “Iron Mike.”
The monotone and often hard-to-follow voice, which can sound both male and female but lacks the natural timbre and cadence of a human voice, is being introduced as a cost-saving measure by the federal government. It is expected to free forecasters from the tedious job of speaking into a microphone several times a day, according to John Jensenius, spokesman and warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service forecast office in Gray, Maine.
“The new voice frees up forecasters to do other things. It also broadcasts weather warnings immediately, which does not always happen now if a forecaster is doing something else,” Jensenius said. “But I think people have grown accustomed to the human voice and they are going to miss it.”
Weather broadcasts around the country should be fully synthesized by September, according to Jensenius.