What a Wonderful World of Weather
Alan Sealls, NWA President
"I see skies of blue and clouds of white / the bright sacred day, the dark blessed night / And I think to myself, what a wonderful world"*…of weather.
Has there ever been a better time to be an operational meteorologist than now? Just consider the data available. We’ve got some wonderful tools. I can do full radar analysis using a $9.99 weather app. True, I did pay hundreds of dollars for my smartphone with monthly data fees that are higher than the cost of filling my gasoline tank, but that’s still amazing to me. That smartphone gives me weather alerts. It knows where I am, even though I sometimes don’t know where it is.
I can pull up five-minute GOES imagery and see the cumulus towers that are casting a shadow over my subdivision, and I can see the cirrus arriving from the west to give me a halo. And who doesn't want a halo?
Live webcams give me a weather window to locations around the world. "The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky."*
Long-range models let me know if I should consider rescheduling a road trip in two weeks. High resolution short-term models let me know if my work day or day off will be smooth or rough.
What about social media? Crowd-sourcing gives verification to forecasts, and people capture phenomena on camera that helps us understand and admire the atmosphere. Okay, sure, there are those posts of long-range model output snapshots that panic the public, but I’d like to think the good of social media outweighs the bad, regarding weather.
Online, I can find free historic weather charts, meteograms, and satellite, and radar composites. I can take modules and courses, including webinars like those offered through the National Weather Association. I certainly can get numerous nuggets of knowledge at our NWA Annual Meeting where we see how to exploit weather tools and information. There, "I see friends shaking hands, saying, how do you do?”*
Stop and appreciate all the tools, data, and models available to us. Give thanks to the institutions and educators who gave us our foundations, mentors who gave us direction, researchers, modelers, computer scientists, and engineers who provide the software and hardware, social scientists who help us communicate, and organizations that support the mission of operational meteorology—just like the NWA.
"And I think to myself, what a wonderful world"…of weather. "Oh yeah!"*
*Maybe Louis Armstrong was an aspiring meteorologist? He might have checked our NWA Annual Meeting preliminary meeting agenda online to see what wonders he could find.