Teen Has An Eye for The Storm

By Hindi Diamond

Published August 25, 2006, issue of August 25, 2006.

Most 4 year olds want to be firemen or policemen when they grow up. But by the time Florida’s Zach Gruskin turned 4, he already had other plans: He wanted to study hurricanes.

“Everything about hurricanes fascinates me,” the young hurricane hunter, now 15, told the Forward. “They are like nothing else on this planet. The power of the hurricane is unmatched. I never wanted to be anything else but a meteorologist.”

At age 8, Gruskin won the Broward County Regional Science Fair with a hurricane-related project, and he’s been on a winning streak ever since. It wasn’t long before he made an impression on Howie Friedman, a judge at the fair who also happens to be deputy director of hurricane research for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.

“That kid lives and breathes hurricanes,” Friedman said. “I’ve never seen a more motivated young man.”

As 12, with Friedman as his mentor, Gruskin became the youngest intern ever to work at NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division on Virginia Key in Miami. “Since he can’t drive himself to the three-day-a-week internship, his mom drops him off at Temple Judea in Hollywood before going to work,” Friedman said. “I pick him up at the shul and drive him to the center. I was even invited to his bar mitzvah!”

Friedman has no shortage of praise for his young protégé.

“With his enthusiasm, and depth of knowledge at so early an age,” he said, “I predict Zach is destined to go very far in the field and become one of the nation’s leading meteorologists. Here at the center, we listen carefully to his ideas and predictions, which usually turn out to be right on.”

Nowadays, Gruskin has taken to putting his predictions on his Web site, www.hurricanewarning1.com.

“I change it and add to it each day,” he said, “so if you want to look up what to expect that day, it’s right there.”

There is, however, one storm that Zach missed — the devastating Hurricane Andrew of 1992.

“I slept through it all,” he said chuckling. “Of course I was only 1 year old.”



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