Athletics Alumni Spotlight

Tiffany Fortier, Women's Tennis


Tiffany Fortier was a member of Mercer’s women’s tennis team in 2013 and 2014.  Fortier was a member of the two winningest squads for Mercer in the past 10 years.  Fortier is 54 th all-time for combined wins (singles and doubles) for MCCC women’s tennis with 12 wins.  After two years at Mercer, Fortier transferred to the University of North Carolina Charlotte.  Fortier got her Bachelor’s degree in Meteorology with a minor in Earth Sciences in December 2018.


Fortier became interested in the weather at an early age. “When I was 7 during summer camp, I looked up at the sky and wondered why certain clouds had different shapes. This led to my mom buying me a cloud identification book, where I practiced and memorized each cloud and their sole purpose. I read it so much the stem came apart.”  And that childhood curiosity never stopped.


As we know, the weather changes frequently and that is one of Fortier’s favorite things about her work.  “Each day is different, even with very slight variables like winds, temperatures, or cloud cover. Being exposed to many different weather patterns, large or small, keeps my passion and curiosity in this science alive and well.”


When asked what is involved in studying meteorology, Fortier explained all that it entails.  “I like to consider meteorology as some sort of hybrid STEM degree. Other than your typical meteorology courses, some of the coursework required is calculus 1-3, calculus-based physics 1-2, calculus-based statistics, thermodynamics, atmospheric dynamics 1-2, differential equations, computer science of some sort (whether it is C++, C#, Fortran, Python, which is gaining a lot of popularity in meteorology right now)… it goes on. 

A lot of people don’t realize how math-intensive meteorology is, how many equations are involved, and it tends to easily weed out many candidates for the degree.”


Asked if the weather is hard to predict, Fortier said “It really depends on the atmospheric setup. Some quieter patterns can strictly involve near-surface and lower level forcing, such as the Sea Breeze or Urban Heat Island Effect. However, more dynamic patterns, like the recent Pi Day nor’easter, involve a lot of moving parts across a larger area. Subtle changes in any parameter can drastically change wind speeds, precipitation type, and/or snowfall/rain totals at a select location. ”


When asked about changes in weather, Fortier explained that “many noticeable patterns occur over a matter of decades.  I have noticed warmer winters towards the southern half of the US and more active hurricane seasons in recent years due to stronger and persistent La Niña oscillations. (It’s neutral now, but is expected to fully transition to El Nino by this summer).” 


Fortier discussed what she enjoys studying most and broke it down into smaller scale atmospheric phenomena and large scale phenomena. “With small scale phenomena, I love studying the sea breeze (fun fact: it’s observed over the Great Lakes too!). Over half of the US population lives nearby a coast. Sea breeze can fire up thunderstorms and enhance lift when interacting with another boundary like a front.  With respect to larger scale phenomena, I love studying Hatteras Lows, more commonly known as nor’easters. I lived through the infamous Blizzard of ‘96, Boxing Day Snowstorm of 2010, numerous snowstorms of 2011 and 2014 and the January 2022 blizzard here on Long Island. There’s so many moving parts to these lows, which can make forecasting them very challenging. But that’s a part of the fun!”


Fortier is grateful for her time at Mercer. “Mercer saved me money, solidified my choice in pursuing a career in meteorology, and allowed me to continue tennis from high school. Going to community college then transferring to a 4-year university is a great decision to ensure you want to go forward with your degree or if you want to take a different path. 

Unfortunately my courses at Charlotte kept me way too busy to join their D1 tennis team, but I’m glad I got to do a college sport while I had the chance. “ 


Fortier was also thankful that many of her credits transferred to University of North Carolina Charlotte.  “When signing up for classes for my last semester at Mercer in spring 2015, I had some help from the transfer advisor at the time on what classes I would need to take to satisfy minimal transfer requirements. Most universities require 25-30 transferable credits, with many associated with your major. 36 credits from Mercer were able to transfer over to Charlotte.”


Fortier’s favorite thing about playing tennis at Mercer was her teammates. “We were a small team of 6-8 people but we all got along so well and had a ton of laughs on and off the court. I still keep in touch with some of them to this day.”


Fortier is contemplating going back to school for a Masters in Atmospheric Science. Her childhood fascination has now turned into a career for Fortier and Mercer was just one stop along the way to being a meteorologist.





  Fortier with a weather balloon.