The National Weather Service Turns 150

On February 9, 2020, the National Weather Service celebrated the 150th anniversary of its formation. While many people are aware of the important services that this agency provides in support of its mission to protect lives and property, you may not be aware of some of the unique history of the agency, the role it has played in our history, and how technological advances have helped to improve the science of weather forecasting by leaps and bounds in the last 150 years.

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Third Thursday Interview: Cordie Goodrich

Hello, and happy Thursday everyone! We are so excited to introduce our newest series – Third Thursdays! On the third Thursday of every month, we will be profiling someone in the sciences that inspires us. We believe that everyone has a story, and we can all learn something from each person. Throughout our careers and lives, we have been fortunate to meet people from varied backgrounds and walks of life. Through this blog, we hope to share their stories….to inspire and motivate you, to entertain you, and to make learning about science easy, accessible, and fun! We hope you enjoy our newest series, and without further ado….I introduce to you all, Cordie Goodrich!

I first met Cordie last year when we were in a mutual friend’s wedding together. Cordie is one of those people you meet and instantly like – she is witty, kind, charismatic….I could go on and on! When I began brainstorming a list of rockstars for our Third Thursday series, several people came to mind and Cordie was among them. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what she did…but she’s been to Antarctica and her Instagram stories of “work” frequently showed her jetting around on a boat in Bermuda. So basically, living her best life while working, and if there was ever a candidate for a Third Thursday interview, Cordie was it!

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What’s Weather Have to do with Building Basements?

Depending on where you live in the country, basements might be the norm…or they might be more of an added bonus. I grew up in Alabama (without a basement) and never gave it much thought, until my fiance and I moved back to my home state a few months ago. We began looking around at potential homes, and he asked why basements are so uncommon here. Since he grew up in Ohio, nearly every home he had spent time in while growing up had a basement.

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Fog: A Ground and Air Transportation Hazard

Even if you are not a basketball fan, you no doubt heard the news of the passing of LA Laker legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and 7 other people in a helicopter crash in southern California last week. The tragic news sent shock waves across the nation. As the parent of a teenage daughter who is a basketball player nearly year-round, I found this tragedy personally very difficult to process, especially upon learning that there were teammates, coaches, and parents who were scheduled to play a game that day on the doomed flight. The children, families, and coaches left behind will be dealing with this loss for a long time to come. As I sat down to write this blog post today, I was going to write on an entirely different topic, but given the thoughts in my mind, I thought it would be timely to use the opportunity to talk a bit about the hazard that fog presents to both ground and aviation travel.

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Credentials of a Meteorologist

If you do a simple Google search, it can be overwhelming to find a reliable source from which to receive your weather forecasts. Many people on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets often pose themselves as meteorologists and offer analysis, opinions and forecasts when in reality they may not have the credentials to rightly do so. At best, this is unethical and misleading, at worst, it can result in people making poor decisions based upon misinformation.

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100th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society Recap

Hi friends. You likely noticed that we did not post a blog last week – but we had a good reason! We were in Boston, Massachusetts for the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). This conference happens annually, and is widely recognized as an excellent opportunity for learning and networking for meteorologists, but we also encourage anyone with an interest in weather to attend! This event was even more special as it was the Centennial Celebration of the American Meteorological Society! Not only that, the National Weather Service (NWS) celebrated 150 years of service, the National Science Foundation (NSF) celebrated 70 years, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) celebrated 50 years during the week as well!

Sun setting on the last evening of the conference. Photo courtesy Will Sheridan
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The Decade’s Biggest Weather & Climate Disasters

There is generally always a time of reflection at the end of the year, and even more so at the end of a decade. The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) is responsible for monitoring and assessing the climate, and one of the ways they so is by tracking and evaluating the climate events that have great economical and societal impacts. These include drought, flooding, freezes, severe storms, tropical cyclones, wildfires, and winter storms. We’ve gathered together a list of the ten events that had the greatest economic impact between 2010-2019. Note that the total cost of several events from 2019 are still being calculated, including:

  • Tropical Storm Imelda – September 2019; Imelda represents the fifth 500-year flood that has impacted a portion of southeast Texas over the last five years;
  • Hurricane Dorian – September 2019; Dorian’s intensification to a category 5 storm marks the fourth consecutive year, in which a maximum category 5 storm developed in the Atlantic basin – a new record;
  • Mississippi River, Midwest and Southern Flooding – July 2019; historic flooding impacting agriculture, roads, bridges, levees, dams and other assets across many cities and towns;
  • Arkansas River Flooding – June 2019; historic flooding impacts thousands of homes, cars and businesses  due a combination of high rivers, levee failure and persistently heavy rainfall from May 20 through mid-July;
  • Missouri River and North Central Flooding – March 2019; historic Midwest flooding inundates millions of acres of agriculture, numerous cities and towns and causes widespread damage to roads, bridges, levees and dams
Hurricane María approaching Puerto Rico on September 19, 2017. NOAA GOES-16 satellite image overlaid on NASA Blue Marble background image. Image by Tim Loomis, NOAA Satellites group. 
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Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

We at Shade Tree Meteorology are taking some time this week to enjoy some family time and spend the holidays with our loved ones, and we hope you are able to do the same. As we look back on 2019, we have seen some big changes happen, both professionally and personally. We have thoroughly enjoyed writing this blog for you each week and we hope you enjoy this look back at our favorite blog posts of 2019!

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Tornado Preparedness? In December? Yep!

Hi friends. For those who might not be aware, the STM team is actually now based in two different areas – the Northeast, where we were founded, and the Southeast, where one of our team members now lives! Unsurprisingly, we now deal with very different weather-related issues. For example, at the time of this writing, I know that those of you living in New York are dealing with a winter storm all day today (December 17). On the other hand, yesterday I was able to go for a run in a tank top because the high temperature in my town was 75 degrees! Unfortunately, no location is perfect, and the southeast is known for it’s secondary severe weather season beginning in the late fall, sometimes lasting through early winter. In fact, on December 16, 2000, a powerful EF-4 tornado tore through Tuscaloosa County, killing 11 and injuring over 100. The tornado was on the ground for 18 miles, all within Tuscaloosa County. The tornado path was estimated to be 750 yards wide at its maximum intensity. Although the warnings were excellent for this tornado, the public perception still wasn’t where it should be.

Damage to houses from the December 16, 2000 tornado.
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