Minutes of the May 20, 2002 Meeting
Smoky Mountain AMS Chapter


The meeting went very well, but we missed two very important people. Six of us met at Naples for dinner and conversation. There were about 13 at the meeting on the UT campus. There was some conversation about a possible meeting at Oak Ridge and the problems with security. I certainly do not understand any details. The July meeting was mentioned as a possibility. I mentioned dues and the only response was from Ernie Roberts, one of my old DataStreme Teachers. He was not sure if he had paid and I had no records so we decided to wait till the next meeting.

Then I introduced our speaker and his topic: "Drought and Climate Issues" by Richard Heim, Climate Monitoring Branch, National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

Our speaker, Mr. Heim, graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1977, with a major in mathematics and minors in physics, computer science, geography, history, and English. He took his masters degree in Geography at the University of Nebraska in 1982, specializing in meteorology/climatology. He then graduated from the NWS Intern Program in 1985, after spending 3 years at the Great Falls, Montana Forecast Office. For the last 17 years, he has been working at the NCDC in Asheville. He has worked on several projects, including the 1961-90 climate normals and the U.S. Snow Climatology Project. He spent 6 weeks in Melbourne, Australia, as part of a scientist-exchange program between NCDC and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology Research Center. Mr. Heim has been involved in operational climate monitoring since 1988; he is one of the authors of the Weekly Drought Monitor (available on the web).

Richard's presentation overwhelmed us with the details of drought definition, the various formulas involved and the politics of their use in different geographical areas. He spoke of the problems of changing to newer more accurate methods of both defining drought and the possibilities of long range forecasting.

The question and answer session was enthusiastic and I decided to give Richard a break and end it about 9:30 P.M. Many stood around visiting until nearly 10 P.M.

If anyone has changes or additions to the above let Rick Turner know Rick@tree-castle.com. I will have him put a version of it on the web page consistentwith past minutes. Also send him any new info on the next meeting so he can post it. I will be leaving for Penn State and the AMS/DATASTREME/WES program and a visit to my sister in upstate NY. I should be back by the 12th.


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