A few weeks ago, I visited Northern Illinois University (NIU; my Alma mater) for Geography's annual career day. It is a day focused on networking for students and alumni that helps build and maintain a strong foundation for all who graduate from the program.
When the chance came to give advice to meteorology students (no, not the advice to ignore Gilbert!), I promptly responded with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Python. There is an ArcPY module for Python, and many tools in ArcMap run via Python scripts. In my opinion, Python is *the* answer for budding scientists. Its ease of use, open source, and large support community nature make it an obvious choice. However, don't ask just me! The latest issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) highlights the utility of Python for use in atmospheric science. Python can easily deal with netCDF arrays (numPy module) or GRIB data (Nio module), both of which are commonplace data formats in meteorology.
Patrick Marsh (OU SoM) does a lot of amazing things in Python, and it is easy to see how useful it can be for research purposes.
For example, a Python script of mine was able to deal with all 1980-2011 NARR data and produce this map in about 3 hours!
ArcPy (good BLOG here)