Chapter News
October 2002


The first meeting of the Central North Carolina Chapter's 34th year of existence was held on Thursday, September 19, 2002. The speaker for the evening was Gary Curcio, a Fire Staff Specialist with the North Carolina Division of Forest Resources.

Gary’s presentation was on weather and its impacts on fire in North Carolina ’s forests. Currently, he is helping to set up a network of 40 Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS) in North Carolina. These stations report standard surface variables, except for the winds, that are measured at 20 ft. above the nearest obstruction. Data from these sensors is transmitted via NOAAPORT to the National Weather Service and anyone who has a NOAAPORT receiver.

Gary presented examples of different types of forest fuels that respond to moisture on a 1-, 10-, 100- and 1000-hour time scale. How well these fuels burn is determined in large part by the weather, since the source of these fuels in the forest is constant. Even live vegetation can burn when it has reached the wilting point, as has happened in this extremely dry summer in North Carolina. In fact, Gary reported that several fuel efficiency parameters in North Carolina have been at low values that are normally seen only in locations west of the Mississippi River.

Examples of recent large fires in North Carolina include the Fish Day fire in Croatan National Forest in 1994, and the 500-acre fire that occurred in Granville County last fall. Gary outlined the conditions that were present during these fires, and showed several images that display how fires can shift and grow rapidly through the establishment of horizontal vortices that spread embers far from the main fire. Gary also described the dangers that those fighting fires encounter if weather conditions, especially winds, suddenly change.

During these large fires, several weather related parameters could contribute to favorable conditions for rapid fire growth. These include: lapse rate; dewpoint depression; the Haines Index; mixing height; fuel moistures; the presence of a low-level jet above the nocturnal boundary layer; pre- and post-frontal wind shifts; curvature of an upper-level trough in the vicinity. From Gary’s experience, large fires can occur if as few as half of these parameters are favorable for large fire growth.

Before the recent rains, conditions were so severe earlier this month in North Carolina, that fire equipment normally used only in the western U.S., such as a class I air tanker and hot shot fire crews were ready to deploy to the region for possible work in the state. North Carolina’s fire season exhibits a bi-modal behavior, with a peak between October 15 and December 15, and a second larger peak from March through May, due to new tree growth.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Janice Jones of WNCN-TV, Raleigh, introduced the first speaker for the evening, Woody Yonts of the North Carolina Drought Monitoring Council. The Drought Monitoring Council is made up of numerous state and federal agencies that assess and respond to drought conditions in the state, including the State Climate Office and the National Weather Service. They maintain a web site on drought issues ( that includes an list of all local water restrictions within the state, as well as a map showing current drought conditions across NC. As the drought conditions worsened this summer, the council hosted a conference for the media and water systems, and a separate conference for elected officials.

Woody listed some of the critical issues that the council was facing in efforts to reduce the impact of the drought. They included used of illegal dams, water use conflicts, communities running out of water, and resistance to water-use restrictions. This year 230 communities within the state had some measure of water-use restrictions. These restrictions affected these communities through the increased cost of buying water, reduced revenues to local water utilities, and diminished water quality.

Regional field offices monitor public water systems and rank them according to their vulnerability to drought in a three-tier system. Tier 1 represents a crisis situation, with less than 100 days of water supply remaining. Tier 2 is used for communities that are not in a crisis yet, but could be within the next few months. Tier 3 indicates that a community is not in a vulnerable position at this time. The governor created a water system protection team that meets with the Tier 1 communities to ensure they are doing everything possible to limit the economic and environmental impact of the drought in a timely manner.

The long-term drought is closely related to a lack of ground water. The absence of this ground water supply prevents recharging of streams that support the base water flow. Streamflow levels statewide have been below normal of much of the past two years, with almost 30 stream gauging stations in North Carolina setting new record low daily discharge levels in the 2002 water year.

Looking to the future, communities are continuing to monitor remaining water supplies, searching for additional supplies, and working to develop response plans for future shortages. The concept of regional water supply development and interconnection between water systems is being strongly encouraged to alleviate future supply problems.

Ryan Boyles, Associate State Climatologist from the State Climate Office of North Carolina then spoke about drought severity and the outlook for future conditions. He began by emphasizing that drought is difficult to define, predict, and measure. Drought is defined as a period of abnormally dry weather sufficiently long enough to cause severe effects on environment or human activities. Since by its definition drought has severe effects, there is no such thing as mild or moderate drought, which would just be termed a “dry spell”.

The severity of a drought is measured by the need for water and the magnitude of the precipitation deficit, which can be measured through streamflow, the level of reservoirs and the groundwater supply. Each of these systems responds on different time scales. The impact of precipitation on drought varies depending on the amount, timing and effectiveness of the precipitation. Widespread, steady precipitation, for example, is more effective in alleviating drought than local heavy events.

Ryan noted that the current drought in North Carolina began in the summer of 1998 in the western part of the state. The dryness of the last two winters statewide solidified the drought's hold on the area, since winter is the season when most of the water supplies are recharged. From mid-May 2002 through August 2002, very dry weather impacted the state, resulting in some locations missing the equivalent of one year's worth of rain over the past four years.

Ryan described the U.S. Drought Monitor (, an effort that was begun in late 1998 and that continues to evolve. The drought monitor is a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, NOAA and the National Drought Mitigation Center. It provides a weekly depiction of drought conditions on a national scale using a network of monitoring stations along with subjective human input. It is a national product that depicts drought conditions on a single map, combining information from other drought indexes. However, it cannot depict drought conditions on a local level or be re-produced from historical data since it is a subjective product. Another weakness of the monitor is that it attempts to display both short- and long-term drought conditions in a single product.

Finally, Ryan gave an outlook for the upcoming winter season precipitation in North Carolina based on outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center ( The outlook is heavily dependent on the strength of the developing El Niño event in the Pacific, but shows an increased probability of a wetter-than-normal winter season over much of the southeast.

Ryan's talk ended around 8:50 p.m., and after questions from the audience the meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.---Michael Brennan.


The COCAMS chapter had its 3rd meeting of the year on October 29th, 2002 at the National Severe Storms Laboratory. Dr. Jeff Kimpel and Doug Forsyth were the featured speakers. Dr. Kimpel is the Director of the NSSL, and Mr. Forsyth is the Group Leader of the Radar Research and Development Division and serves as the NSSL Executive Director of Facilities and Strategic Planning.

The presentation was entitled, "Phased Array Radar: Opportunities and Challenges for the Oklahoma Weather Center". Dr. Kimpel's portion of the presentation concentrated on the NWS weather radar needs over the next few years. Some of the goals of the new phased array radar will be:

-higher resolution of storm-scale data
-improved specification of pre-storm environment, boundaries and severe weather signatures
-improved verification of NWS severe weather warnings

Dr. Kimpel provided specific information on the phased array radar that is currently being constructed in Norman. He outlined specific timelines and research goals of the radar.

Mr. Forsyth then discussed some of the system components of the phased array radar, such as the transmitter and antenna capabilities. He also talked about upgrades and future plans for phased array radar. Some of these items included adaptive scanning, dual polarization, and multi-use applications such as aircraft tracking and chemical and biological profiling.

The presentations are available on the COCAMS webpage: Taylor.



Date: September 17, 2002
Location: Olive Garden, Northwest Freeway, Houston

This was our first official meeting of the new year. We began the meeting with a new Vice-President Election. Lew Fincher was elected Vice-President of our local chapter. Lew replaces Mike Arrellano who had to resign.

Dr. John W. Nielsen-Gammon from Texas A&M University was our guest speaker. His topic was on the meteorological influence on air quality in Houston. He explained how the sea breeze activity around Galveston Bay plays an important role in the amount of air pollution that exists over portions of southeast Texas. We hope to have a copy of his presentation available for members to borrow in case they missed the talk.

Plans are also underway to develop our online library of books and videos. If anyone has any books they own that might be of interest to the members of the chapter and you do not mind loaning them out you can list them on our online library.

Our meetings for November and December are pretty much set. In November we will be visiting the FAA Air Route Traffic Control Center where the National Weather Service has an office called the Center Weather Support Unit. These meteorologist supply weather support to the Traffic Controllers to help keep the air traffic moving in our atmosphere. In December we will be visiting the Galveston County Historical Museum where we will be hearing about winters in Galveston. These should both be interesting and informative meetings.---Gene Hafele, Liz Murphy.


The Kansas City Chapter of the American Meteorological Society met on September 29, 2002 at the Hardware Café in Liberty Missouri. President Joe Lauria held a brief business meeting and then introduced the speaker for the evening., Dan McCarthy. Mr. McCarthy is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the Storm Prediction Center in Norman Oklahoma. The title of his talk was "Tornado Trends 1950 - 2001".

Mr. Dan McCarthy began his talk by sharing with the group some of the questions he often receives from the media. Are there more tornadoes now then in the past? Are they causing more damage? To explore these questions and others, Dan presented graphs depicting the number of tornadoes in the United States by year (figure 1). The graph showed that there were increases in the number of reported tornadoes through the years. However, these increases can be attributed to events that are not related to nature, but instead related to changes in emphasis in the reporting of tornadoes. These changes include the opening of a tornado forecasting center in the 1950s, verification of NWS warnings beginning in the 1980s, improvements in observing technology with the WSR-88D Doppler radar in the early 1990s, and an increase in storm spotters during the last decade. Dan did point out that through the years, big tornado years were evident, but on average, we should expect about 1000 tornadoes a year. The count so far this year (through the middle of September) is running about 50% below the average number.

He then showed that counting the number of days when tornadoes occurred provided a better indicator of what normal is. A range of 150 to 200 tornadoes days a year can be expected. Dan mentioned that he receives a lot of questions from the media concerning the relationship between the ENSO cycle and the number of tornadoes. He pointed out that the there was no statistical evidence that correlates the number of tornadoes with either El Nino or La Nina events and that there was no way to predict whether this El Nino year will coincide with more or less tornadoes. It is simply a matter of having the right conditions for tornado development on any particular day.

To answer the question about when is tornado season, Dan pointed out that 74% of all tornadoes occurred between March 1 and July 31, with a second peak evident in November (mainly across the southern U.S.).

Dan then talked about how tornadoes are rated using the Fujita scale (F-scale). It was interesting to note that during the earlier years, tornado records showed more F2 tornadoes were reported than those rated F0 or F1. This was attributed to the way in which reports were gathered. Interns were used to search through newspaper clippings to find reports of tornadoes. Since F0 and F1 tornadoes cause little to minor damage, less information could be gathered from the news. However, this trend was reversed when the NWS verification and surveying of tornadoes was begun. Also, a number of tornadoes were never assigned an F-scale rating. This was corrected in 1982 when the NWS began requiring an F-scale rating be assigned for all tornadoes reported.

Dan pointed out that he is a member of the Fujita Forum which is looking closely at the F-scale to see what changes can be made to improve the rating of tornadoes to best describe the its strength. He mentioned that the surveying of tornado damage is essential in properly rating tornado strength, and that how well the damaged structures were built needs to be accounted for. One should not assign an F-scale value based on the appearance of the tornado.

Dan summed up his talk by reminding the group that the Storm Prediction Center will soon begin issuing severe thunderstorm and tornado watches by county instead of the parallelograms we see today. Tornado watches are issued if 3 or more tornadoes or 1 or more significant tornadoes are expected. Severe thunderstorm watches are issued if organized severe thunderstorms are expected to affect more than 8 thousand square miles. SPC verification statistics of tornado watches show that most significant tornadoes occur within tornado watches while about 50% of all tornadoes (significant and minor) occur in watches.

Figure 1: Number of tornadoes by year (bars), 5 year running average (line) and trend line (dashed line) showing apparent increase in the number of reported tornadoes.
After a lively question and answer period, president Lauria presented Dan with a gift as a token of the chapter's appreciation for taking the time to talk to come to Kansas City and speak to the chapter.---Peter Browning.


General Business Meeting: September 4, 2002

President Cegeon Chan

Vice President Gabriel Langbauer

Secretary Amy Lawton

Public Relations Heather Vieira

President Cegeon Chan

Vice President Gabriel Langbauer

Public Relations Heather Vieira

President Cegeon Chan

Executive Board Meeting: September 10, 2002

President Cegeon Chan

Vice President Gabriel Langbuaer

Public Relations Heather Vieira

President Cegeon Chan

---Amy Lawton.


September 2002 Meeting Minutes

The Omaha-Offutt chapter of the AMS held its first meeting of the season 19 September 2002 at 7:00p.m in Omaha's historic old market. Spaghetti Works accommodated the 28 members and guests who began arriving at 6:00p.m for the social hour, followed by the business portion of the meeting at 7:00, and dinner thereafter. The night concluded with a presentation by Mr. Daniel Nietfeld recapping the 2002 convective season. The next meeting will be held 17 October 2002.

Old Business
President Gene Wall called the meeting to order and introduced this year's officers, Vice President Scott Risch, Corresponding Secretary Cara Combs, Recording Secretary Jeremy Wesely, and Treasurer Matt Sittel. Jeremy Wesely read through the minutes, which were motioned for approval by Phillip Johnson and seconded by Charles French. Matt Sittel will be running this years forecast contest and all predictions can be turned in to him. Matt also reported that the chapter's current balance. In other chapter financial news, President Wall indicated that Offutt base weather station employees Jason Blackerby and Sarah Young audited the treasure's books.

Dr. Ken Dewey has updated our chapter web page which is now located at Cara Combs also aided in publicizing the chapter by compiling an excellent chapter newsletter that was handed out at the meeting. In addition, Gene handed members a comments form that was aimed at gaining member input to further improve the chapter.

New Business
Gene announced that our chapter would need to rework and update our by-laws to reflect the current state of the Omaha-Offutt AMS. Suggested changes to the by-laws can be found in this month's newsletter. Gene also announced that this year's national meeting would be held 9-13 February 2003 in Long Beach California. For community outreach, Gene referred all those that might be interested in judging science fairs to Phillip Johnson.

Gene asked new members to stand and introduce themselves to the group. Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) numerical modeler Bill Courtemanche, deputy chief of the operational requirements division Fawn Morley, AFWA commander Col. Charles Benson, and AFWA vice commander Col. Bill Burnette all stood to introduce themselves. In further member participation Gene asked if anyone had recent weather related stories to share with the rest of the chapter. Phillip Johnson had noticed precipitation falling from a very large smoke plume, Paul McCrone and Matt Sittel both experienced large golf ball sized hail, Bruce Telfeyan told of Jeremy Wesely and Evan Kuchera's appearance on Nebraska public television when they took a station camera man storm chasing. Gene then informed members of the goals for future meetings. For instance, the chapter plans to have a tour of Union Pacific while learning how weather affects the rail industry. In addition, future meetings may include speakers on global warming, storm chasing from those that conduct chase tours, and how weather impacts the insurance industry.

Guest Speaker
Dan Nietfeld, Science and Operations Officer (SOO) with the National Weather Service (NWS) Omaha office, presented a summary that highlighted the 2002 convective season. At the time of his presentation only 566 tornadoes had been recorded nation wide, which was down dramatically from the 1,000 plus tornadoes typically experienced. The Omaha office issued 835 warnings in 2001while only 551 in 2002. Mr. Nietfeld reviewed the spring and summer trends with regards to the presence of the necessary severe weather ingredients. He also conducted an in-depth study of the only three days in which the Omaha area of responsibility saw tornadoes, 17 April, 27 April, and 25 July. In addition, Mr. Nietfeld performed a case study of the 28 August flood in Lincoln, NE, while highlighting the NWS ability to determine rainfall rates over selected drainage basins. President Gene Wall presented Mr. Nietfeld with an AMS tie as a sign of appreciation for his time.---Jeremy Wesely.


The Cook College Chapter of the American Meteorological Society held its first meeting of the Fall 2002 semester on 19 September 2002 at 9pm. The club had a lot to discuss at this meeting since many events were planned for the semester. To start, the new meteorology club exec board quickly introduced themselves to the students, which included many new freshmen. After introductions, Dr. Robert Harnack, the club's faculty advisor and curriculum coordinator spoke about a few pertinent items. He told the underclassmen about some changes in the courses available for them to take as Arts and Humanities requirements. He also told the students that they may take CS 110 for a computer requirement, which is a visual basic programming class offered at Rutgers. In addition, he also allowed students to take the one-semester Biology 103 course, in place of the double semester Bio 101-102, that had previous been required for a meteorology major. Dr. Harnack also told us some history about himself, in regards to picking colleges and how he got to the position he's in now.

Next to speak was Capt. Austin with the United States Air Force. She spoke to us to tell us about the great opportunities within the field of meteorology that the USAF has to offer. She informed us that the USAF will pay our tuition and give us valuable experience if we join Air Force ROTC and meet their requirements. She told us that we would become officers in the Air Force, who would be specialized as a meteorologist. She passed out some literature to the students in attendance giving more information, including how to contact her if we chose to follow that route in our careers.

Next to speak was the Meteorology Club Media Forecaster, John Krasting. John was speaking about INFO Radio Forecast, which gives students an opportunity to make a forecast, which is broadcasted on the Rutgers INFO Radio Station. Students would write a daily forecast once a week and email it to the station, which would then read it on air. He passed out sign up sheets and discussed briefly how the volunteer position is a good and simple way to get experience and have fun.

Jim Nichols, lead producer of RUTV's WeatherWatcher program spoke next. Jim spoke about the program, which is a joint project by both the meteorology program and RUTV. Students would make a forecast that would be taped and broadcasted on RUTV. Their forecast would be repeated every hour, at :59 past the hour on Channel 8. He told interested students how they can try out for positions and what it entailed.

Jim Salge, the club's vice president, spoke next. Jim told the students that this year the club was implementing a point system to help figure out which students are active members. He discussed how students should attend as many meetings and fundraisers as possible, and if they cannot attend one, to email Chuck, club President, about why they cannot attend. He also told the students that priority for trips and special events is given to students with more points, making it necessary to be an active member if you wanted to enjoy the full benefits of the Cook College Meteorology Club.

Jim also talked about our upcoming trip to New Hampshire. There we will spend 3 days and nights at Mt. Washington. We plan on visiting the mountain, the weather museum located there, and the observatory. We also hope to see some good fall foliage and enjoy ourselves on this trip, scheduled for the second weekend in the month of October. Once again, priority for this trip is given to active club members, so the importance of the point system is shown here.

Next to speak was Brian Frugis, meteorology club Secretary. Brian discussed the need of a new design for a club t-shirt. He told students to try to think of an idea that we can discuss at a future meeting.

Club President, Chuck Caracozza spoke next. Chuck said that we need students to volunteer to help change the Meteorology Club Bulletin Board, on the 3rd floor of the ENR building on our campus. He said that students interested in helping decorate it would be given points.

Finally, the club adjourned for the night but students interested in attending the 83th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society at Long Beach, California on Feb 9-13 2003 stayed to discuss how we would plan on attending the meeting this year.---Brian J. Frugis.


On September 18, 2002, the SouthEastern Arizona Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (SEACAMS) had its first meeting of the year which included a weather photography contest. The featured guest speaker was Tom Weidwandt, a professional photographer whose works have been featured in many National Geographic publications. Tom also served as the photo contest judge.

The meeting began with the submission of photos, about 17 were entered, and then the introduction of this year's new officers. Tom began his talk by stating that he is not a meteorologist, just an ecologist with a passion for weather. He received his bachelors and masters degrees at the University of Arizona and his doctorate at Cornell. When he was about 31, he changed he interests to photography and filming. He also has taught classes on photo techniques and landforms of the southwest.

He brought slides of his work to show a bit of what he does. He uses 35 mm film and believes that any brand of camera is good as long as a tripod and a cable release is used. He doesn't use digital cameras, he believes the color and quality is better with film. Also the digital world is changing so fast that it would become too expensive to keep up with it. He likes to scan his pictures in to his computer, digitize them, and then touch up with Adobe Photoshop.

His slide show includes pictures of cirrus clouds, mammatus clouds, monsoon rainstorms where the sun was shining on the raindrops, rainbows, hailstorms, and lightning. A couple of his lightning shots have never been done before. He would either zoom in or out when the flashes were occurring and successive bolts would appear shrinking.

After Mr. Weidwandt's talk, he went over to judge the photos while we had storm chasing videos playing to entertain everyone else. The final placements were as follows:
1st Place: Carl Noggle - lightning in New Mexico reflected off of a lake
2nd Place: Carl Noggle - lightning in Tucson
3rd Place: Mike Jacobson - a monsoon thunderstorm in Tucson
Tom explained after judging why he picked the winners photos, mostly noting that they showed thought and the elements (a lake, saguaro cacti, buildings and cars) surrounding the weather phenomena gave more drama to the pictures.

Scheduled for next meeting in October is a trip to Vaisala-Global Atmospherics Incorporated, the world's largest lightning detection equipment manufacturer and lightning data services operator located here in Tucson.---Lisa Reed.


October 8, 2002 Meeting

Brent Maddux began the meeting by introducing Dr. Nielsen-Gammon to go over changes to the Department of Atmospheric Science's undergraduate curriculum. Following this, TAMMSSDA coordinator Kevin Walter presented a forecast discussion over the severe weather occurring that day as well as TAMMSSDA information. The Secretary's report was given. The Treasurer reported a current balance of $1,237.35. The officers went over plans for the semester including: Replant, Adopt-A-Highway, the Meteorology Bulletin Board Committee, Intramurals and the San Antonio trip to KENS television station. After which David Gold gave a presentation on storm chasing, discussing forecasting and data acquisition. The meeting was then adjourned to pizza and refreshments.---Morgan Gallagher.


Peter Boulay, Assistant Climatologist for Minnesota DNR Waters presented information regarding 12 significant Heavy Rain Events for 2002. He analyzed 7 of the events that the State Climatology Office analyzed precipitation patterns for. He showed the typical weather map that produced such great amounts of rain in a rather short time frame. There seemed to be a High in Canada and the Eastern US and a Stationary Front near a Low located west of Minnesota. He showed the typical weather map that produced such great amounts of rain in a rather short time frame. There seemed to be a High in Canada and the Eastern US and a Stationary Front near a Low located west of Minnesota. Other common patterns included a trough at 500mb in the western U.S. and a 500mb ridge over the eastern U.S. A low level southerly jet of 30kts was noted at 850mb. Statistics were given for the Heavy Rain Events at Lake of the Woods/Roseau, Wright County, Mille Lacs area, Climax, St Cloud/ Glencoe and Montevideo.---Joan Haley.


The first local chapter convergence of the 2002-2003 year was held on Thursday October 3rd at WTVT FOX 13 in Tampa. To fulfill our goal of educational outreach, George W. Lindsay was our guest speaker. He has taken the Florida Explores program and obtained a donation of a television studio to provide a unique opportunity for middle school students to learn about meteorology and television weathercasting.

Mr. Lindsay is a middle school teacher at Safety Harbor Middle School in Pinellas County. He has been teaching in the school system for 38 years. His fresh, innovative approach to teaching has made his earth science classes among the most popular in the school. The students selected to work on the school newscasts were dubbed "The Chosen Few". Mr. Lindsay uses the QFAX system, a system offered by Florida State University which allows students to obtain satellite imagery. The system furthers their understanding of the atmospheric sciences in general.

George Lindsay, Safety Harbor Middle School teacher shows a videotape of his student's weathercast. Chapter President and Fox 13 Meteorologist Andy Johnson.

Mr. Lindsay has taken the system even further by obtaining television production equipment and building an entire television studio. The equipment was donated by a local cable company. His students make their own weather telecasts and broadcast from their facility to other schools. The students get experience using a chromakey wall, as well. This is a fantastic way to introduce future television meteorologists to the world of broadcasting!

The QFAX system featured receives images of polar orbiting satellites. The system displays the location of the satellites. Mr. Lindsay showed a videotape of the students broadcasting coverage of Hurricane Lili and tropical storm Kyle. The QFAX system downloads the images for further digital manipulation by the students. Picture brightness, contrast, intensity can be adjusted. Images can be navigated allowing geopolitical and latitude/longitude overlays. As the students download and categorize the images, they are then able to obtain further information (such as color-coded cloud height temperatures) simply by clicking the mouse over any location within the image. They can compare visible and infrared images on a single screen allowing further study of storms.

Chapter officers (left to right) Mark Mantz(web administrator), Nancy Knight (treasurer), Laura York(secretary), Andy Johnson(President) Chapter officers show off their poster. Left to right - Andy Johnson(President), Laura Monk (secretary), Mark Mantz (web administrator) and Nancy Knight (Treasurer).

The students were very excited about the work they were doing. They put together an entire newscast that also includes 'on-air talent' bringing reports of the school activities, as well as, the weather broadcasts. Students get to learn hands-on techniques both on and off camera. The facility consists of 3 rooms, which includes the studio, editing and production areas.

For more information on the Florida Explores Program, please visit their website at The Safety Harbor Middle School website is

Fox 13 meteorologist Paul Dellegatto presented the map discussion. The topic was hurricane Lili and how and why it weakened so dramatically before reaching the Louisiana coastline. It was very informative to hear our top meteorological members discussing the fascinating aspects of this very closely watched storm.

Members anticipate the presentation.

After the guest speaker, the audience was treated to a tour of the Channel 13 award winning facilities, led by our Chapter President and on-air meteorologist Andy Johnson.---Andy Johnson.


The Wright Memorial AMS chapter met on the evening of 17 Sep 02 at Dominic's Ristaurante in downtown Dayton OH. The meeting kicked off with Chapter President Pete Roohr welcoming us into the new season of meetings. Dr. Roohr introduced the club officers, Harm Visser, VP, Mike Abel, Treasurer. Notes were compiled by Paul Gehred. Dr. Roohr handed out the first forecast contest of the year, which quizzed members on different weather parameters for different cities in the U.S.

The agenda featured a panel discussion with four retired Air Force Meteorologists; they were Mike Abel, Don Farrington, Bob Thompson, and Kevin Lavin. The following is an excerpt of what the retirees said after being asked about their long careers, what they felt were their low and high points, and what they felt about reengineering of AF Weather:


Mike Abel, Lt Col Ret
I've had a unique career, which was very technical, mostly on the staff met side of service. I entered in Jan 1975 with an MS, 1st spot was Edwards AFB, where I learned how to forecast, supported rocket propulsion lab; it was a great assignment for me but airmen hated it, as it was too far from the high life. Next came the assignment at AFIT - Colorado State in Ft Collins, very hard work, where I was married and my 2nd son was born. I then went to ETAC (Environmental Technical Applications Center) at Scott AFB IL (AFCCC now), the job was new to me, and there was an odd situation since AWS was right across the street. I worked with Mary Hart there, Ron Rodney, and Frank Jenks too (man, small world). Next I was a staffmet at WPAFB in cruise missile, and after that they sent me to Air command and Staff College; ACSC gave me a chance to see how we did against the jet pilots, and I learned that the pilots ran the AF and had some illusions dispelled. Next to HQ building at Space Command. That was the hardest job I ever had, with lots of stress. It always seemed like I worked my tail off in the front lines and the Colonels got all the credit. I was a Major at the time, 4th WW; I knew Mary Hart and Pete Roohr there. My next assignment was at Hanscom AFB; I loved it but you pay the price and we just scraped by due to high cost of living allowance. My last assignment was to work for Col Hayes at WPAFB; my wife and Mike wanted to end AF career in Dayton and my thanks go to Col Hayes. We worked the staff at the AF Materiel Command and it was hardest job I ever had. We were always cutting budgets and staff but I longed for serious science. Good thing is I got a job when I got out, and I'm happy about that.

Kevin Lavin, Col Ret
I retired in 1991 after 30 yrs in Air Weather Service, a tour in Vietnam, at Hickam AFB HI, Peterson AFB, and Scott AFB IL. I went to the University of Massachusetts in the late 1950s to study math so as to be an actuary like dad, but Vietnam was kicking up and I joined ROTC to be an officer. The Air Force didn't need a pilot with health concerns so they sent me to CYU and Guam. I loved the great atmosphere, night shift as a 2nd Lt working with sergeants, knowing everyone on a 1st name basis; my goal was to do good for my boss and then we'd all move up. I've had great jobs which includes being a pay officer; occasionally you'd need a pistol to carry the cash to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (Guam). I liked it so much I eventually led the JTWC, then I got into the Space side and loved that too. I've always been proud of the organizations of weather pros, and I'm a member of all these families. It's a joy to see how well we're doing as a profession. Our models have gotten better. I marvel at how the jobs have grown, including the futures traders at investment firms.

Bob Thompson, Lt Col Ret
I went to Korea after training school, staying in for 26 years; as a matter of fact I retired in Korea. I flew my first mission in a B-26 in Nov 1951, then flew with the Navy; they were across the runway. I attended Officer Training School in 1959, with 30 hours of grad school. In 1962 while doing Weather Reconnaissance out of Guam I met Kevin Lavin (a second Lt) and he returned to hire me at the Joint Typhoon Weather Center. I am also a retired girl scout ranger; hmmm, lots of retirements. It's been a checkered career but I wouldn't change a thing, and it's been so marvelous to have accomplished so much.

Don Farrington, MSgt Ret
In 1988 I was a weather observer at Carswell AFB Texas, then did Weather Recon in Japan. My last assignment was at Ft McPherson, after that I worked in Georgia Recon. I was a former National Hurricane Center worker after that. I graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1968, but pilot school kept delaying me with classes cancelled all the time. I ended up missing OTS, went to basic and worked my way to the weather career field and classes at Chanute AFB Weather School, Illinois. During that point of my career the Army was saying that we had nothing to do while we were working our tails off supporting Army and SAC. Japan was next; I was at 20th Wx Sq in a refrigerated office reentering data the computers couldn't decipher. At first I thought my next assignment was Nellis AFB but it turned out to be Fort Knox KY. I then had more Weather school at Chanute, with a false promise that if you did well you could pick your next assignment. I then went to Heidelberg in Germany, did Reforager. After that I went to Ft McPherson in the Atlanta area, then we went to Greece to work in a solar observatory. We didn't track the sun right so we had to always adjust the telescope; next Kevin Lavin showed up as the commander. Terrorists were active there in the 1980s and some wives left, but my wife stayed. I then went to Ft McPherson and I loved it; we have had an AMS chapter there since the 1980s, and its active and great. Nobody needs to move to Atlanta since we have enough traffic already.

If you could start your career over again in AFWx would you? And any changes?

Bob- I was 17 when I started in AWS, and I would do it all over again! I know I've had a unique experience doing things & meeting people that no one else has ever done, and it's been awesome.
Kevin- Times were different then, as you had the draft, not to mention the war; this year things are changing because college grads are having a hard time finding work, plus national pride is big.
Bob- Our AF retirement plus social security have helped us a lot and we find ourselves a whole lot better off than the people we see sleeping in card board boxes - that could have been me and I'm very grateful for our AF experience. 9-11 is a milestone that happened to us; before that I was pretty well off, and now I'm a grateful person, happy to be alive.
Don - my wife and I have moved a lot; she worked and we always had a great income. We liked moving and loved traveling. I met and said goodbye to a lot of new people, but we wouldn't change anything. My wife was in the AF even though she wasn't. That's the way it is…the spouse is so important.
Mike - My wife didn't like the AF because she didn't get the chance build her own career, and that colors your experience. The family always makes the sacrifice, unlike the civilian sector. The spouse is at home with kids and has a real rough ride if they don't like the AF. In a way it forces you and your buddies to be a close-knit unit!

What's your highest and lowest point of your career?

Bob - As a Technical Sergeant at King Salmon AB Alaska, the Group Commander (stationed at Anchorage) said, "Thompson you are now our 1st Enlisted Detachment Commander in Alaska". I was stunned because I replaced a Major! My lowest point was in Officer Candidate School (obvious impact on Bob as he was very upset). I had been sick and missed a test and flunked it. I took the retest with no chance to recover and flunked. I ultimately washed out of OCS, but I appealed it to a board led by a hard-nosed officer named Col Worth, and a female Captain as the sec. I gave him everything and he said he didn't want to see me anymore, and the Captain said "you are dismissed." My wife said that's nonsense, and implored me to appeal it. I washed back for while and graduated as a distinguished graduate.
Don - My lowest point was being turned down for the last time at OTS which really hurt. My high point was getting into weather and not being a cop; Chanute AFB in winter was pretty harsh but I had fun after it was over. Kevin - My tour in Vietnam was a high point; I was over there without the family so work was the only thing to do. I was sent from Chanute AFB as an Air Training Command person and they didn't know I was coming; I literally stood outside for a few days. Evidently I was a pretty good briefer and they had fired the briefer to the General so I got the job. We started making 7 day forecasts and it seemed to work pretty well. I had great people to work with, and we won an annual award. My low point? We lost a missile in 1987. It was an Atlas Centaur with a multi-million dollar payload, struck by induced lightning. It was a blown weather call, and General Chapman at Scott (AWS commander) wanted to hear about it, as did Patrick AFB CC so it was tough. I felt very bad for the junior officer down there; the lesson learned is to never be afraid to ask for help, don't go it alone…it's a lot easier in the end.
Bob - Do you all remember the Challenger explosion? I hadn't seen it on TV and a friend of mine screamed, "Bob! look look look!" It was still blowing apart, what's this? Maybe an abort? Inconceivable! We knew it couldn't be so, CNN agreed it had blown up, still a catastrophe and hard to accept even to this date.
Mike - I met Onizuka as test pilot before he was an astronaut…Edwards AFB was a great high light.
One of my other high moments was when my troop won a base-wide award; my low point was the ugly staff work drudgery. As a part of the family, little things mean a lot.

Reengineering Perspectives
[Entire Panel]

Kevin - General McPeak came in when the former AF Chief of Staff, General Dugan, put his foot in mouth with respect to the situation in the Middle East. General McPeak had a long running feud with Chapman then the PACAF/DOW (Col Klein) too. Kelly Klein took the hit trying to explain that the weather guys reported to Military Airlift Command not PACAF. McPeak stewed about our stovepipe and slashed wx!

We almost lost the AWS all together, because people would say that the Weather Channel had everything. What was never taught very well was how to use weather in the decision process; if we focus on that, we will all be better off. The Army has always appreciated weather; they don't fly around it. They like us and depend on us in Germany, Korea, and all over. The hubs are a response to low manning, the need for better communication and better models. We're getting money, pooling with Navy, etc; it all just takes a steady push. NPOESS may usher the close of DMSP. The very first forecaster school was here at Patterson Field, now it's AFIT.

Dr. Roohr closed the meeting, welcoming all to the next meeting on 17 Oct, with Dr. Gill coming to speak from California University PA.---Paul Gehred.


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