Weather geeks unite!

Posted on

What happens when you put almost 4,000 meteorologists, climatologists, social scientists, and data miners in one convention center? People talk about the weather, of course!

Last week was the 99th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society, and for the first time in over a decade, I attended. The size of the meeting was overwhelming to say the least. With dozens of conferences and symposia embedded within the larger meeting, there was no shortage of options to choose from. Some were technical, getting into the minutia of radar, satellites, programming and coding. Others were discussions about how to effectively communicate confidence or lack thereof in a forecast, risk to different subsections of the public, and what we know and don’t know about climate change.

With the partial government shutdown in place, there were fewer attendees this year. Many who work for the EPA, NOAA and NASA were unable to travel. That situation led to several talks being canceled because the speakers and moderators worked for those federal agencies. For example, I was disappointed to learn that one keynote speech was canceled because Administrator of NASA Jim Bridenstine, who was the speaker, could not attend.

While our cohorts and the education and information they would have imparted were certainly missed, there was still an abundance of insight and wisdom to be gained. I spent most of my time in the sessions focused on education, communication, and risk mitigation. I rubbed elbows with broadcast meteorologists, federal employees (who were willing to foot their own travel bills), and employees of private industries – all of whom were trying to improve their understanding of current scientific knowledge and share their professional experiences in the field.

In future posts, I’ll share some of what I gleaned from my trip. For now, suffice it to say that there are thousands of people from around the world who traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, to spend nearly a week talking about the weather, how it affects everyone, and what we can do to keep lives and property safe.