How the Weather Influenced Space-X Crew Dragon Launch and Landing

Many families with school-aged kids, including my own, were very excited to watch the launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon rocket, containing astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station. Meteorology is a field where the public and private sectors have to intentionally collaborate, and so it was really neat to see another positive outcome of a successful working relationship between a private company (SpaceX) and a government agency (NASA) to launch American astronauts into space on American soil for the first time since the space shuttle program ended in 2011.

Courtesy: NASA.
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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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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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NOAA Profiles: Storm Prediction Center

In the past, we have blogged about the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and discussed how the agency works. The overarching mission of NOAA is to predict and understand the climate, oceans, weather, as well as to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. In this unprecedented time in history which we now find ourselves living in, many of these faithful civil servants continue to report to work to do their jobs and protect the public. Many of these individuals are working from home like so many of us, but many also must continue to commute to their workplace to do their jobs; the vast volume of weather data and the difficult task of issuing warnings and forecasts is not possible to do from a personal desktop or laptop computer. Kelly and I are both married (or in Kelly’s case, soon to be married!) to meteorologists who work for NOAA (my husband works for the National Weather Service at a local Weather Forecast office, while Kelly’s husband works for National Weather Service at the National Water Center), and we are so grateful for them and their coworkers who truly model what civil service means.

I thought it would be interesting to dig a little deeper into some of the agencies which make up NOAA, highlighting a little bit more of the invaluable work they do and how they contribute to NOAA’s mission. Since we are heading into the peak of severe weather season, it seemed like a great time to learn a little bit more about the Storm Prediction Center, which is located in Norman, Oklahoma.

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Counting down to the Spring (Vernal) Equinox

In just one week, spring will have officially arrived in the Northern Hemisphere! Although the winter here in upstate New York has been relatively mild in terms of temperatures, the frequency of days on which a cold rain has occurred has me anxiously awaiting the increased sunshine and longer days to come in the next few months. Although we wrote a blog post last year on why we have the seasons, I thought it would be fun to look at some little known facts about the spring, or vernal equinox.

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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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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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Thankful for Thanksgiving

It seems so hard to believe, but today marks our fiftieth blog post!  We genuinely enjoy communicating with our readers each week.  In honor of thanksgiving and to celebrate this milestone, we thought it would be fun to reflect on all of the personal and professional blessings for which we are truly thankful.  We wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and happy celebrations with loved ones this week!

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The 20th Northeast Regional Operational Workshop (NROW XX): How scientific research translates into better forecasts

This past week, I attended the Northeast Regional Operational Workshop, held here in Albany, New York. This conference is a local meeting, organized by forecasters at the National Weather Service in Albany, New York, which had its genesis 20 years ago as a means for forecasters at the NWS, researchers and academics at the University at Albany, and others to share results of research projects which relate directly to forecast operations in the National Weather Service. Today, the conference is attended by forecasters from many National Weather Service offices, students and faculty from the University at Albany, local media meteorologists, and representatives from the private sector such as myself.

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