11 January 2016

Paying It Forward At The AMS Annual Meeting

Posted by Dan Satterfield

A very pretty sunset over the Big Easy Saturday night. It marked the opening of the 96th annual meeting of the AMS.

A very pretty sunset over the Big Easy Saturday night. It marked the opening of the 96th annual meeting of the AMS.

I’m in New Orleans to attend the 96th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society, and today I spent some time talking with students and young professionals about what awaits them as meteorologists. It’s not an easy task, because I suspect the changes they will see in their careers will be even more dramatic than I have witnessed since I graduated from the Univ. of Oklahoma 34 years ago! As a matter of fact, one of my professors at Okla. Univ. is the new President of the Society! 

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 10.04.24 PMMost people likely assume that meteorologists either work on TV, or for the National Weather Service, but in reality only a tiny number of the attendees here work on TV. I bet there are less than 250 NWS folks here as well. Academia, and private sector meteorologists are everywhere! It doesn’t matter though, because we all have a love of the weather, and the science of meteorology.  Everyone talks about the weather, but few people persevere (through the math and the physics) to really understand it, and there is an unseen bond among those of us who did! 

I was in a session today (for early career professionals) with a meteorologist who works for Mars Inc. Not the planet, candy bars! Corn is in a lot of candy, and Mars Inc. buys a lot of corn! They employ meteorologists with expertise in long-range weather patterns to forecast the price of a bushel of corn will cost them.

My friend Bob Henson writes for Weather Underground, and he witnessed the rare opening of the Bonnet Carre’ spillway this morning, to keep the mighty Mississippi from flooding this city. You can see and hear about that here. I met a young student, from my alma mater, who is at the very beginning of a career in broadcast meteorology, and we had a nice chat. I passed on some advice about how this job is changing, and why I like it even more now in this era of social media (and a hundred TV channels).

IMG_0263I haven’t mentioned it here yet, but my conference fees were waved by the AMS, because I was awarded the AMS Broadcast Meteorology Award. Getting recognized by my peers, and the AMS, is a humbling honor. Seeing your name on a sign as you check into your hotel is rather strange (I think I impressed my wife!).

When the Society was formed over 96 years ago, the idea that we would make reliable forecasts for over 5 days into the future seemed like an impossible dream. The thought that its members would be warning the world that they were dangerously interfering with our planet’s climate is even more astounding, but both have come to pass. Perhaps why, today was all about those who are new to the society and will be the leaders who take the AMS into the 21st century.

That’s a smart move!

  • On a side note, the Comic-Con convention is underway here as well, and I think Doctor Who stayed in my hotel last night (#11 Matt Smith). Geeks are geeks!