Traveling weather or not

Celebrity traveler

WBAL meteorologist Tony Pann doesn't let forecast dictate his vacation plans

  • Meteorologist Tony Pann on the beach in Longboat Key, Florida.
Meteorologist Tony Pann on the beach in Longboat Key, Florida. (Photo courtesy of Tony Pann,…)
March 14, 2013|By Stephanie Citron, For The Baltimore Sun

Winter skiing, springtime on the links, summer sailing and autumn leaf-peeping — the weather forecast is the driving force behind the planning of many vacations.

But when it comes to predicting the weather, WBAL meteorologist Tony Pann takes it all in stride.

Pann grew up in the blustery, changeable climate of Chicago, and has since delivered the weather report for television stations in New York and Washington, as well as Baltimore.

"I've seen it all," he says good-naturedly.

With forecasters facing a torrent of criticism about a recent never-transpiring snowstorm, Pann reminds us that Mother Nature remains in control.

"Even in this day and age, with the most sophisticated technology, the smallest, subtle change in the atmosphere can alter the entire model of a storm," he says. "In this case, an [unexpected] piece of energy dropped down from New England into the Mid-Atlantic and pushed the storm 100 miles in another direction."

Despite the occasional miscalculation, most of us still remain shameless devotees of the daily forecast to either make or break our day's planned events. So, we got to wondering: Where does a self-proclaimed "weather geek" go to get away.

As a meteorologist, how much does the weather influence the destination you choose?

I don't really look at long-range weather before I plan something. I'll make the plans and hope, just like everyone else, that it turns out OK.

Where is your current favorite place to travel?

For the last 30 years or so, my family has had a time-share condo in Longboat Key, Florida. I bought one [for] myself about 15 years ago, so every year my family from Chicago gets together and meets there. I was in high school the first time I visited. Even though I go there every year, it's still my favorite spot. The beaches are beautiful, it's quiet most of the time, they've got great golf courses and good restaurants.

Where is Longboat Key, exactly?

It's actually off the [Florida Gulf] coast of Sarasota. It's a little strip island, and you have to take a bridge [from Sarasota] to get across to it. You can see the water from almost any spot on the island because it's really only about a mile or two across. Sarasota's also a great city with a lot to do: good restaurants, nightlife and a really great art scene – a lot of museums, exhibits and shows come in from around the world.

How do you get there?

I fly into Sarasota; it's a really small airport. They used to have nonstop flights out of BWI but now the only direct flight [from this area] is out of Reagan National. But you can also fly direct from BWI into Tampa — it's just about an hour-and-a-half drive from there.

What time of year do you like to visit?

I go in January because that's when we have our timeshare. I like that it's right after the holiday rush; that was timed on purpose. It's really crowded there during the holidays but then everyone goes home and January is a lot quieter. The golf courses and restaurants aren't crowded.

Who comes with you?

My wife, and my brothers and parents, aunts and uncles all come in from Chicago. Some years there can be as many as 15 or 20 of us.

What kinds of things do you like to do there?

The island is pretty small. There's just one road that goes down the middle of the island. You can take a trolley down to either end. There's a big high-end shopping area called St. Armand's Circle; but actually it's a square. It's an outdoor mall, kind of like Hunt Valley, but with really high-end stores, a lot of great restaurants where you can sit outside and eat. I love Cha Cha Coconuts — a great spot to stop for a drink. So that's the hot spot for Longboat Key. [Though technically it's down the road on Lido Key.]

Do you have any regular rituals?

We love to just play golf and eat. The courses on Longboat Key are mostly private, but I know some people, so we can often get on there. But most of the time we play on the public courses around Sarasota. We usually rent a car so we can go inland and also go out to dinner. Of course, any place you go in the state of Florida you're going to find fantastic golf courses. Really, just a 15- or 20-minute drive in any direction are great courses.

Beach or pool?

My family prefers to sit by the pool but I'd rather be on the beach. It's very Zen to walk on the beach, very relaxing. I grew up on Lake Michigan but never got into sailing or fishing like my friends and family did. The only thing I do on the beach is walk and meditate. I like to find a quiet spot, put my headphones on and get some Zen music going. I try to meditate at least twice a week when I'm home, but down there if I can get on the beach and meditate, there's something different about it.

Where do you like to eat?

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