NWA: Bringing It All Together
by Gail Hartfield
This month, I’ve got a few quick takes on a variety of topics.
The Big Shindig: The NWA 42nd Annual Meeting, taking place in Garden Grove, California (near Anaheim), is fast approaching. To say that attending an NWA annual meeting is a thoroughly enjoyable and enriching experience is truly an understatement. Not only is it a chance to hear about all of the wonderful innovations, projects, studies, and experiences going on within our industry, but it’s a great opportunity to network and get to know fellow meteorologists from all over, as well as reconnect with old friends and colleagues. Our program committee has planned some terrific sessions and activities including speed mentoring for students and early career professionals, the Broadcast Meteorology Workshop, a lively panel discussion on vulnerable populations, the Weather and Forecasting Master Class, special GOES-16 presentations, several icebreakers and mixers, the very popular WeatherReady Fest, and more. There is also the Annual Golf Tournament benefitting the National Weather Association Foundation, which provides support for college students in meteorology and related fields as well as for K-12 science educators. Interested in attending? Just head to the NWA website and click on the Annual Meeting tab to register (See page 5 of the June 2017 Newsletter for meeting specifics.).
Making the best presentations: Speaking of the Annual Meeting, over the next couple of months, those whose abstracts have been accepted for presentation will be hard at work creating their slides or posters. Getting started is often the most difficult part for me. It can be daunting to stare at a blank PowerPoint slide knowing that you need to turn it into 12 minutes (or 4 by 8 feet) of brilliance. Several great resources are available to assist in creating interesting, concise, and successful presentations—both oral and poster. A few of these tips and guidelines can be found on the Annual Meeting site. You can also consult the June 2016 NWA Wednesday Webinar that discussed how to make a great scientific poster. Lastly, the book “Eloquent Science” by Dr. David Schultz is one of my favorites and has great guidelines for high-quality presentations.
Time for extreme heat: We are approaching what is historically the hottest part of the year, and we’ve already seen deadly record-breaking heat in the Southwest with many areas hitting 115 F or higher. This particular heat wave has seen plenty of publicity from meteorologists in all sectors. Our messaging urges crucial actions such as maximizing time in air conditioning and/or shaded, well-ventilated areas; minimizing exertion and time spent outdoors during the hottest part of the day; staying out of the sun; and making sure kids and pets aren’t left in vehicles or other enclosed areas that are dangerous in hot weather. But despite being largely preventable, heat remains one of the top weather-related killers. On average, heat leads to 97 deaths per year. In 2016, heat caused 94 deaths, second only to flooding, and was second behind tornadoes over the last 10 years. Yet heat stands as the number one weather related killer over the last 30 years, a period that encompasses the deadly 1995 Chicago heat wave, which led to hundreds of heat-related deaths of vulnerable people including the elderly, the isolated, and those without air conditioning. Current heat-wave messaging often includes encouraging people to check in on friends and neighbors, a simple step that may help lessen the risk for some of these vulnerable groups. Clearly, though, much more needs to be done to improve preparedness and response during extreme heat episodes. Such an effort would require the coordinated involvement of operational meteorologists, decision-support specialists, emergency responders and managers, and community leaders. Perhaps one day we can finally succeed in eliminating heat-related deaths.
Creative paths in meteorology: I was recently talking with a college student who is working on a double major in meteorology and engineering with a goal of specializing in the wind energy sector. I was pretty impressed that he was planning ahead in this way, tailoring his coursework for a particular specialty within the weather enterprise. Of course, not every student needs to be this laser-focused on a career path this early in college. But considering the tough job market for meteorologists in some sectors and the projected growth in renewables such as wind and solar energy, students beginning meteorological studies would be wise to think beyond traditional forecasting and consider the widening scope of jobs in weather-dependent industries. These include the energy sector, farming and agricultural support, as well as the retail, military and intelligence, finance, shipping, and aviation sectors. Do you have an unusual or outside-the-box meteorology job? Please message us on the NWA Facebook page — we may want to feature you in an upcoming Newsletter!