ABOVE: A screenshot shows Shelbyville’s Julia Prickett on-air for WLFI in Lafayette.

If you don’t like the weather in Indiana, wait to see if Julia Prickett gives you hope.

“Sunny skies are boring,” the 2020 Shelbyville High School alumnus and soon-to-graduate meteorologist confessed in a recent interview.

But just as intriguing as Hoosier weather has been Prickett’s experience at Purdue University and current stint on WLFI News 18 in Lafayette, both fulfilling lifelong dreams.

“I have always had an interest in weather and meteorology,” Prickett, the 2021 Shelby County Fair Queen, said.

She grew up watching movies such as “Twister” and idolizing WTHR meteorologist Angela Buchman.

“If you ask my parents, I never changed my path,” Prickett said. She is the daughter of Mike and Kevin Prickett and has two younger brothers, Logan and Reece.

She instead honed that interest in the Golden Bear TV studio at SHS.

“The class wasn’t just about TV, but how to collect and write news,” she said. “I also learned the craft of public speaking and communication.”

GBTV could only accept eight of approximately 25 applicants annually, and as a senior, Prickett assisted the teacher with training the incoming juniors.

“I learned a lot from that experience, which propelled me at Purdue,” she said.

Prickett, who will graduate in May with a degree in Mass Media Communications and a minor in Meteorology, continued her studio work in West Lafayette with Fast Track, the university’s weekly news program. She also developed relationships with professors, one of which connected her to a WLFI News 18 internship, where she gained experience forecasting and portraying forecasts to an audience.

In August, she was asked to fill in at WLFI for two weeks. That meant waking up at 1:30 a.m., doing full make-up and hair – “You can’t just get up and go,” she said – a 3 a.m. call time, morning shows from 5 to 6:30 a.m. and continuing with cut-in or maybe even radio work until 8:30 a.m., then on to class.

“I really had to make huge adjustments, because I’m a night owl,” Prickett said.

In recent weeks, she has continued freelance work for the station in the evenings, which she calls “a whole different ball game.”

She arrives in the studio at 2:45 p.m., is on-air for the 5 and 6 p.m. shows, takes a break for dinner and then returns for cut-ins until around midnight.

“You have to work yourself up to evenings in the industry,” Prickett said. “I’ll likely start by working mornings, but both are great shows that I really enjoy.”

The forecasting process is naturally complex, involving consulting with the National Weather Service and meteorologist colleagues via chat. The goal is to prepare people for the day or the next day, which is why she often uses phrases such as “as you’re heading out the door” or “as kids are off to school.”

Although live TV work is in front of a green screen, Prickett knows where to point thanks to three supporting screens showing how the current temperature, radar and other measures appear to the viewer.

“All of the screens really serve as a springboard for me to convey a forecast to an audience, as I don't have a script,” she said.

Instead, she may be instructed via an ear piece to banter with the hosts or make adjustments on the fly. The constant changes are what Prickett most enjoys about the industry, she said. 

Now, she’s looking to continue that experience in a full-time position. The advantage of having a news station near campus and a light course schedule her final semester will allow for an extensive job search. Although she hopes to land a position in Indianapolis someday, Prickett said she has an open mind about her first full-time job.

“I want to see where the opportunities lie,” she said.

She does have one request: “I hope it’s somewhere there’s a variety of weather.”