Friday, January 29, 2010

In Praise of Meteorologists

When you are warm in bed at 1am as the snow swirls outside, meteorologists for WeatherData, AccuWeather, the National Weather Service, and, probably, your local television station are just getting up to go to work.  They battle heavy snow and streets that haven't seen a plow or sand truck (road crews wait until closer to rush hour) to get to work. Once there, they work hard to inform you about the snow and ice storm. They will likely work longer than average hours during one of these multi-faceted storms. TV meteorologists will have the stress of doing extra on air reports.

This was posted on my blog Monday.
Four days of warning of a major winter storm.  Tuesday, we were already informing Oklahomans of major power outages so they could prepare.  We told one of our electric utility clients in Kansas "no ice here." Because they knew they would not have ice-related outages in their service territory they, proactively, sent crews into Oklahoma to augment the crews of Oklahoma utilities. Unlike storms of the past, today's accurate weather forecasts enables the restoration effort to begin even before the first drop of freezing rain falls. There are roughly 500,000 Oklahomans without power at the moment and every extra crew is vital to get power restored from a huge storm like the one that is now moving out of the Sooner State.

As I write these words, our people are having an animated discussion about snow depth forecasts. Not only are they handling the snow storm, they are handling the ice storm as it moves across Arkansas and a line of strong thunderstorms in southeast Texas.
Tyler (left) and Andrew (right) discuss snow amounts

Meteorology also relies heavily on volunteers: Storm spotters, storm chasers, and cooperative weather observers. This map of Kansas snowfall this morning was created from reports sent in by 100% volunteers. (colors correspond to snow depths, see scale upper right)

Few realize the tremendous progress that has been made in meteorology and how much it has enhanced the safety and convenience of our lives. 

So, take a look at WeatherData's web site to see what we do. Bookmark the AccuWeather web site and look at all of the great forecasts and information we provide.

And, drop the local TV meteorologist or National Weather Service office a note and tell them how much you appreciate everything they do for all of us.  

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