How to Plan a Wedding with Weather in Mind

Hi friends! As you might have seen in our spring newsletter that we published a couple of weeks ago, I was supposed to get married back in April…but of course, COVID-19 had other plans and we ultimately decided to postpone our big day. However, before the pandemic, I had drafted this blog to share how to plan your wedding while considering the effects that the weather might have on your day. Of course, you can’t predict what the weather will be when you set your date, but there are some things you can do to give yourself the best chances for your ideal wedding weather.

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Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)

With everything that is going on here on planet Earth and in the United States right now, I was so excited to read this interesting bit of news about a new visitor to the night sky and our solar system, Comet C/2020 F3, known as NEOWISE. My kids and I have had a lot of fun looking for the comet in the night sky, and so I thought that it might be fun to learn a little bit more about it. Most of us who study the weather are fascinated by ANY cool object or phenomenon in the sky, and I am no exception! I distinctly recall being an elementary school student back in 1986 and learning about Halley’s Comet. It was visible to the naked eye at the time, and returns to earth once every 75 years. I remember thinking how OLD I would be when it returned in 2061 (which doesn’t seem nearly so far away nowadays!!!). Comet NEOWISE will only return to earth about once every 6800 years, so this is something you will not want to miss seeing!

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Third Thursday Interview: Ron Baskett

I am so excited to share with you this month’s Third Thursday interview with Ron Baskett. I first met Ron as a very nervous candidate when I walked into the board room to take my Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM) oral exam in January 2015. His friendly demeanor, along with that of the rest of the board, immediately put me at ease and helped to make the experience much less nerve-wracking, and, dare I say, even enjoyable? He was later assigned to me as a mentor as I began my term on the CCM Board. Ron has a background in air pollution meteorology, and so our different backgrounds and areas of expertise really gave me the opportunity to learn so much about an area of meteorology that is so different from what I do on a day-in, day-out basis. I learned so much from Ron during my time on the CCM board, and he was always happy to answer my (many) questions! Ron always made time to discuss board-related topics with me whenever I had a question, and always took time to first inquire about how things were going personally and professionally. As a new CCM, that meant a lot and I was grateful to have had such a mentor. He is now retired from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and enjoys an active life full of time spent outdoors, with family, volunteering, avidly reading journal articles and other material, and generally enjoying a well-earned retirement! We continue to correspond periodically, and I always enjoy receiving an email update from Ron. While we haven’t seen each other in person in quite some time, I always look forward to those opportunities. I hope you enjoy getting to know Ron via this interview as well!

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H is for Haboob

After writing a blog on derechos, I thought it could be a fun idea for a series, where I write about unique weather events that start with different letters of the alphabet! To carry on with the theme, this week’s fun weather word is “haboob,” which is an intense sandstorm or duststorm caused by strong winds, with sand and/or dust often lofted as high as 5,000 feet (!!) creating a “wall of dust” along the leading edge of the haboob.

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Book Recommendation: Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson

Has anyone else been doing a lot of reading lately? I love to read, and I read all different types of books, but my favorites are historical fiction and biographies. When I came across this book, I knew I wanted to read it immediately. The National Weather Service awards the Isaac M. Cline award “to individuals and teams who have made significant contributions in support of the National Weather Service. The award is named in honor of Isaac M. Cline, one of the most recognized employees in National Weather Service history.” Although I was well aware of the award, I knew very little about the man for which it was named prior to reading the book.

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Hurricanes and Mental Health

Research shows that mental illnesses are common in the United States, with nearly one in five adults living with a mental illness. Extreme weather events can impacts mental health in several ways, both in immediate anxiety-related responses, as well as chronic mental health disorders. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD; a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically occurring in the winter months) leads to insomnia, anxiety, and agitation. Flooding and prolonged droughts have been associated with with elevated levels of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). Tropical cyclones are no exception and can wreak havoc beyond the images of flattened buildings, uprooted trees, and flooded streets that take over news coverage.

A home in Gulfport, Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina. Courtesy NWS New Orleans/Baton Rouge.
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Third Thursday Interview: Vanesa Urango

Welcome to another edition of our Third Thursdays! This week we are profiling Vanesa Urango, who works with FEMA’s Public Assistance Program and is the State Public Assistance Coordinator in New Hampshire. Vanesa and I met when we were in graduate school together in New Hampshire, although our overlapped time together was short since she was a year or so ahead of me in the program. I was excited to chat with her, catch up on how she’s been, and learn more about her position (which has always seemed so interesting to me, but I’d never gotten the full details until now!)

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History Highlight: June Bacon-Bercey

June Esther Griffith (later to become June Bacon-Bercey through marriage), was born October 23, 1928 in Wichita, Kansas, and would grow up to become a pioneer in the field of meteorology after first becoming interested in science at a young age. As an only child, she enjoyed the great outdoors through bike riding and hiking, as well as playing the piano and participating in Girl Scouts activities. When a high school physics teacher noticed June’s interest in water displacement and buoyancy, they encouraged June to pursue a career in meteorology. Although her parents supported her career choice, it was quite an out-of-the-box suggestion. Both female and African-American meteorologists were practically unheard of at this time in history, and women were traditionally looked down upon in fields of math and meteorology.

Left, a headshot of June Bacon-Bercey. Right, posing on her Buffalo apartment terrace while working at WGR TV. (Maurice Seymour; Courtesy of Dail St. Claire)
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The Famous Tuskegee Airmen…and Meteorologists

The Tuskegee Airmen were a highly respected fighter group formed in 1941. Prior to 1940, African-Americans were not permitted to fly with the U.S. military. Thanks to advocacy by civil rights groups and others, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed legislation in 1940 which prohibited racial restrictions on voluntary enlistments in the military and allowed African-Americans to serve in all branches of the Armed Forces, including the Army Air Corps (although on a segregated basis). This led to the development and founding of an African-American pursuit squadron to be based and trained at Tuskegee, Alabama.

Courtesy: Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
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