NWA June 2020 Newsletter
Issue 20 - 6
What's in this newsletter:


NWA Statement on Racism and Bias

Racial inequality and the pain it has caused have existed far too long. The National Weather Association (NWA) stands with all those affected by its resulting violence and oppression, and we mourn those who have lost their lives to it, including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others. We know actions speak louder than words. Recent events have us asking what we, the NWA, can do to be a part of the solution.

The NWA was founded on the principle of inclusion and it is a value we retain today. We are much wiser and stronger because of our diverse membership and inclusion. We continue our dedication to increasing our diversity, our understanding and acceptance of each other, and to providing equal opportunity.

We want to create a safe space for our members to hold discussions, even uncomfortable ones, so that we can all be more understanding of each other, become allies for change, and create an environment where we can focus on using our talents to serve others, in line with the Mission of our organization. To do this, the NWA Board is launching a plan of action.

What can we do to help? Please read President Todd Lericos’ President’s Message on Racism and Bias to learn steps the NWA is taking to act against racism and inequality, with the goal of being part of the solution.

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President's Message
NWA President Todd Lericos


An Important President's Message on Racism and Bias


The disgraceful murders of Ahmaud Arbery and, more recently, of George Floyd have spurred nationwide protests against decades of unnecessary repression and violence against people of color. This is leading to long-overdue discussions about race and racism. Personally, it has spurred many conversations with my friends and family and made me think more about the issues of race and where we are as a country. 

This process of reflection has brought to mind a quote that I heard once a long time ago from the poet Oliver Goldsmith: “You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips”. This quote can, of course, have many meanings to people depending on interpretation. It has relevance to me given current events. The takeaway for me is that it’s not as much about what we say, but what we do that really matters. 

Many organizations across the country are conveying support to the black community. This is a good thing. In thinking about how this organization should respond, I keep coming back to the meaning of the quote. It is not what the NWA says, it’s about what we can do as an association. 

The NWA was founded on the premise of inclusion and has taken major strides over the last few years to improve our diversity and inclusion. This has culminated in a series of activities that have brought difficult conversations forward. It has allowed our members to grow personally and professionally. Many of these conversations were needed and we rose to meet that challenge. 

So today presents us with another challenge. While we want to convey support to our black members and black people across the country, we also want to do more. We want to act.  

I and the NWA Board have made a decision to form an ad hoc team for the purpose of addressing race and race relations. This team will be responsible for developing a plan for a series of activities that will give our members a space to learn, dialog, and grow professionally and personally. Obviously the details will be forthcoming as the team does its work. However, there are already a few good ideas being discussed as a starting point for the team. I am excited to see what the team will come up with. 

I have asked Board Member Tyra Brown Harris to lead this team. Aside from being an outstanding leader Tyra has many great ideas that can help us with this journey.  I am enormously grateful for her willingness to take up this task. She will be forming this team in the coming weeks and getting started thereafter. They will have the full and unwavering support of NWA Headquarters and the Board. Feel free to contact Tyra at tyra.brown (at) nwas.org.

This Association is going to “preach a better sermon” by acting to start conversations and activities that lead to meaningful change. I hope you will join the efforts and participate in the activities that are to come. Until then take care of yourself and each other. 

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Annual Meeting Status Update – Decision Coming Soon
NWA Headquarters

We appreciate so many taking the 45th Annual Meeting COVID-19 Questionnaire. The response was outstanding. A team has analyzed those results, explored virtual meeting options, and the Board will assess that information along with other considerations. 

As Todd has mentioned in previous President’s Messages, the plan is to hold the meeting. Now the Board will decide whether it will be all virtual, a mix of virtual and in-person, or fully in-person. The decision will be made by the end of June if not sooner.

It will be shared with members and all abstract submitters via email. It will also be distributed through our app, website and social media sites. We appreciate your patience as we research and explore our options for a safe and valuable annual meeting that meets our mission.

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NWA Headquarters Update: 5/15/20

Watch full update video here.

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Striking Back at Lightning: 20 Years of Saving Lives
by John Jensenius, Lightning Safety Specialist, National Lightning Safety Council

The 20th National Lightning Safety Awareness Week (NLSAW) occurs this year on June 21–27 followed by International Lightning Safety Day on June 28. When LSAW began in 2001, the United States averaged 55 deaths per year based on data from the previous 10 years. That average has now dropped to 26 deaths per year, despite an increasing U.S. population.

Photo by Alan Sealls.

The National Lightning Safety Council (NLSC) attributes this decrease in lightning deaths to increased awareness of the dangers of lightning, improved lightning safety policies and guidelines, and better medical attention for lightning victims. Many of you have contributed significantly to this effort by helping the public understand those dangers and knowing how and when to react to the threat.

While the decrease in lightning fatalities is encouraging, at least 626 people died from lightning strikes during the 19-year period 2001 to 2019. In most of these cases, the victims were only steps away from safety when they were struck. Unfortunately, they either failed to recognize the danger of a nearby thunderstorm or simply failed to respond soon enough to that threat.

Once again, NLSC is asking for your help to provide lightning safety information to the public during NLSAW, and throughout the year. To aid with this effort, there is a wealth of information on their website. The NLSAW webpage provides a topic for each day that you can use on social media and in presentations to educate your friends, family, co-workers, and others about how important it is to understand what to do when lightning threatens.

On the Lightning Fatalities webpage, you can find quite a bit of information on the fatal incidents, including fatality lists by state and by activity. Additional information about NLSC including a list of Council members, their backgrounds, and contact information is available on their website.

The NWS also has a Lightning Safety Tips and Resources website with information that can be used to supplement the topics during NLSAW.
As you can see, there is an abundance of information on lightning safety that you can use to educate yourself, your family, and your friends. And remember: Help us promote lightning safety and "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!"

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In Memoriam: 2001 NWA President Les Lemon

Inspired as a child by a tornado event, Les went on to graduate from the University of Oklahoma in 1970. He then went on to work for the NOAA Commissioned Corp and National Severe Storms Laboratory. Les also worked extensively in the private sector and as consultant among a host of other positions throughout his 40+ year career.  Most recently he was assisting the NWS Warning Decision Training Branch in Norman which is a training facility for NWS personnel.

Most are aware that Les is co-creator of the current conceptual model of a supercell and the co-discoverer of the TVS (or Tornado Vortex Signature) on Doppler radar output. The Lemon Technique for supercell interrogation using radar imagery is named after him. His contributions to the field are significant and in large part have enabled the advances made in tornado warnings over the last 20-30 years.

Les was very active in NWA as well. He served as President in 2001, Vice President in 1999, and was an NWA Councilor from 1997-1998. He was given the NWA Special Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010 for his contributions to the field of operational meteorology.

NWA Event Calendar



The full NWA Event Calendar is located in Member Connect.

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Webinars on Proposed Changes to the NWS Watch, Warning, and Advisory System - Make Your Voice Heard!
Everyone is encouraged to participate. NWA Seal Holders earn 1 CEU for attending by writing a short paragraph or two explaining what you learned and including that with your recertification package.

Partners are welcome to sign up for any one of the following sessions:

1 PM EDT Wednesday, June 17th, 2020 [Click to Register Now]

11 AM EDT Thursday, July 9th, 2020 [Click to Register Now]

12 PM EDT Thursday, July 23rd, 2020 [Click to Register Now]

For more information on the webinars, visit our website.

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NWA Distant Socials
by Trevor Boucher, NWA Social Media Committee

NWA Jobs Corner

Stay up to date on our latest job postings on the NWA Jobs CornerSubmit jobs here



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New Article in the Journal of Operational Meteorology

New NWA JOM articles were published in May.

How likely is that chance of thunderstorms? A study of how National Weather Service forecast offices use words of estimative probability and what they mean to the public by Lenhardt, E. D., R. N. Cross, M. J. Krocak, J. T. Ripberger, S. R. Ernst, C. L. Silva, and H. C. Jenkins-Smith.


One of the challenges when communicating forecast information to the public is properly contextualizing uncertainty. No forecast is ever certain, as no meteorological phenomenon is guaranteed to occur. As such, the uncertainty in forecast information should be communicated in a way that makes sense to end users.

Previous studies of the communication of probabilistic information suggest that, although the general public are more apt to communicate uncertainty with words of estimative probability (WEPs), they prefer to receive uncertainty information numerically. Other work has suggested that a combination of numbers and WEPs is the best method for communicating probability, but fewer research studies have assessed the communication and interpretation of probabilistic meteorological information.

In this study, we code 8900 tweets from the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) and analyze them to find how forecasters communicate probabilistic forecast information to the public via Twitter. This analysis reveals that WFO messaging is dominated by WEPs, with few numerical descriptions of probability. These WEPs are generally vague, unqualified notions of probability that may impede the public’s ability to interpret the information that forecasters are trying to communicate.

Based on this analysis, two publicly fielded surveys also are analyzed in order to understand how participants tend to interpret the most common qualified and unqualified WEPs that WFOs used on Twitter. Though participants generally interpret qualified WEPs more consistently than unqualified WEPs, both categories featured a wide range of interpretations that suggest both types of WEPs are vaguely defined for the general public.


The JOM publishes submissions in three categories: Article, Short Contribution and Commentary. The JOM is a peer-reviewed, all-electronic journal with an international scope, providing authors with the benefits of economical publication costs and rapid publication following acceptance.

If you are interested in submitting a paper to the JOM, please go to the Call for Papers webpage.

Thank you to the JOM authors, reviewers and editors for continuing to make JOM a success!

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Publisher: Janice Bunting, NWA CEO
Editor: Bryce McElhaney, NWA Communications and Marketing Coordinator
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