For instance, we might want to weaken or redirect hurricanes, but I just don't see it happening. All weather is in response to the uneven distribution of heat on the planet, and hurricanes probably redistribute heat better than any other type of weather since they are driven by intense heat accumulated in warm, tropical oceans. They transport an incredible amount of heat northward.
As admirable as the idea of altering the strength and path of hurricanes might be, it's hard to imagine that it would ever be within our ability to tame such a powerful force. Even if it were, how would that intense heat imbalance otherwise be redistributed?
What's an idea you became fascinated with but that ended up taking you off track?
I had originally pictured myself as being someone who always thought that he would forecast the weather mainly for the eastern part of the U.S. That's the weather I lived with for my entire life (that's still the case) and what was taught most extensively in school, but after forecasting the weather for the western U.S., with its extremes and microclimates, I became a western forecasting expert.
It turned out well, though. I enjoyed the challenge. It also made me a much more well-rounded forecaster and eventually helped me with my weather writing.
Who are three people or organizations that you would put in a Hall of Fame for your field?
TIROS (Television Infared Observation Satellite) was the first weather satellite (launched in 1960), and it completely transformed the field of meteorology. Seeing the weather from above has aided in understanding and predicting it, and satellite data has greatly improved computer forecast models that forecasters depend on. It's not technically a person or an organization, but TIROS definitely belongs in the weather hall of fame.
Benjamin Franklin, our Renaissance founding father, also deserves to be in the weather hall of fame. He invented the lightning rod, the design of which is similar to what we still use today. He was also the first to map the Gulf Stream and was among the first people to theorize the wind flow around high and low pressure systems. He was a true meteorologist, which means someone who studies the atmosphere.
Certainly, I think that NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) needs to be in the hall of fame. It's the umbrella organization that houses all government weather sources, including local National Weather Service offices, the National Hurricane Center, the Storm Prediction Center (tornado experts), the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (precipitation experts), etc.
What other field oroccupation did you consider going into?
I had briefly considered astronomy as a possible occupation, but I hear you have to work nights.
What website or app most helps you do your job on a daily basis?