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Park grad gets top weekend weather spot at KARE 11

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He navigates the KARE 11 newsroom with the ease of a veteran among heavy hitters.

It is hard to believe Sven Sundgaard is only 25 years old and two years out of college when he confidently steps in front of the camera to tell viewers all they need to know about the weather.

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Sundgaard, a 1999 Park High School graduate, grew up going to Armstrong Elementary School in Cottage Grove. He attended Oltman Junior High and then ninth grade at the newly built Cottage Grove Junior High School.

Most meteorologists know what they want to be when they are quite young.

"Sometimes it's being fascinated by a thunderstorm," Sundgaard said. "For me, it was my first mild winter. I was 12."

The mild winter was a stumper for Sven. He started watching television weather, asking himself why the snow bands went to the south. Then he got interested in forecasting, wanting to figure out when it would snow again.

"I remember straight line winds in Cottage Grove in 1993," he said. "Then there was the Halloween blizzard in 1990. Every bit of weather propelled me.

"I remember drawing a picture of a Super Cell for my grandma. I knew what I was going to do,"

Sundgaard headed for St. Cloud University, the only college in the state that offers a major in meteorology.

Some people hang on to the notion of weather broadcasters as bimbos with no training other than looking good as an on-air personality. That view has long since gone to the wayside. Today's weather comes within the news, delivered by educated people who are also broadcasters.

If there was a man on a mission, it was Sundgaard in college.

Thinking ahead about how he would use his degree, he took an internship at KARE 11 and also interned at a private company doing weather analysis for the aviation industry.

"That's one reason to do internships," he said. "It helps you find out what you want."

Writing reports was not in the cards, he concluded. By the time he was a senior, he was leaning toward broadcasting.

"If you're enthusiastic about something, you want to share it," Sundgaard said.

He was hired at KBJR Television in Duluth, where he worked for two years.

If you ask him about his job there, you'll get a flood of information about the influence of the big lake, how that fits with the topography and how "that is a challenge for daily broadcasting."

Sundgaard enjoys running and likes to travel when is he is not studying weather maps.

Being in warm and sunny places is pleasant, "but I couldn't do my job there."

In order to successfully forecast weather, Sundgaard said knowing computer models is only part of the job. He also tries to give people information without a lot of hype.

It's no surprise that Sundgaard's heroes are Ken Barlow and Don Moldenhauer, both meteorologists.

Moldenhauer, also the executive producer for weather at KARE 11, said station executives looked at a lot of submitted videotapes before choosing Sundgaard.

Moldenhauer said dozens of e-mails reflected very good viewer acceptance of Sundgaard.

"They were overwhelmingly positive," Moldenhauer said. "He has a lot of polish for his age. He's friendly, warm and comes off as somebody you would like to hang out with."

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Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600
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