Alumni Profiles

The Human Whirlwind

Joe Martucci

Trying to keep up with meteorologist Joe Martucci is a little like tracking a spectacular weather system that is constantly in motion. But while weather patterns can be severe and even destructive, Martucci builds connections in his wake.

Based at the Press of Atlantic City, Martucci SEBS’13 is the only meteorologist working for a newspaper/digital news organization in New Jersey, posting regularly on the paper’s social media accounts, writing a daily weather column for the web and print editions, doing two forecast videos a day, and flying a drone to capture footage for news stories or drone documentaries, such as a recent one on the shore’s lighthouses. Martucci has a knack for making the state’s four distinct seasons and many microclimates endlessly interesting; it’s perhaps why he has won multiple awards from the New Jersey Press Association, among other honors.

The meteorology bug hit him early. “It was something I always wanted to do,” Martucci says. “I remember being 3 or 4 and watching Al Roker on TV and thinking ‘That’s going to be me.’ My parents bought me books about the weather and let me watch the Weather Channel for two hours straight. I even married a meteorologist.” He met his wife, Shawnie Caslin SEBS’15, while they were at Rutgers; she’s a weatherperson for WNBC in New York City.

Martucci chose Rutgers because the university’s size and vast resources offered him a taste of the larger world within a protected and nurturing environment. Not outgoing at first, he connected with die-hard meteorology enthusiasts who helped him become more personable. “The comfort of knowing that you had common interests helped me break out of my shell and succeed,” he says.

As a student, he was a member of the WeatherWatcher Living-Learning Community, a collaboration between Rutgers’ meteorology department and RU-tv, the university’s television station, and he honed his skills at broadcasting the school’s daily weather forecast.

His professors fostered a tight-knit, collaborative community. Mark Miller of the Department of Environmental Sciences trained Martucci how to break down obtuse mathematical equations using a slow, methodical process.

Steve Decker, the director of the undergraduate meteorology program, screened the 1996 movie Twister on the last day of class and encouraged students to spot all the weather inaccuracies. “For people my age and a little older, I bet Twister is the reason they became a meteorologist, so it was cool to come full circle at the end of your studies,” Martucci says.

Perhaps Martucci’s strongest bond is with Dave Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist and a Distinguished Professor in earth sciences at Rutgers. Martucci helped him with a research project in 2013 on the climatology of dew points and presented those findings at the 2014 American Meteorological Society Conference in Atlanta. Robinson is a regular guest on Something in the Air, Martucci’s twice-monthly Press podcast that covers New Jersey weather.

As the paper’s only on-staff meteorologist, Martucci is on call whenever an extraordinary weather event occurs. This past February, for example, he worked overtime when New Jersey was hit with both a snowstorm and severe coastal flooding. In May 2019, he stayed live online to update viewers about an approaching tornado and thunderstorm, reporting that earned Martucci an award for Best Use of Social Media from the New Jersey Press Association. Lately, his reputation has spread beyond the Garden State; an article in a March 2021 issue of The New Yorker spotlighted Martucci’s expertise and glee at being part of the forecasting fraternity.

“The most rewarding part of my job is when people tell me that they listen to me and trust me. It shows that my work is meaningful,” Martucci says. “And when local or town officials come to me for information, that means a lot, too.”