NWA October 2019 Newsletter
Issue 19 - 10
What's in this newsletter:
President's Message

NWA President Paul Schlatter

2019 Annual Meeting in Huntsville:

A Smashing Success

What a week that was! If you were able to attend the NWA 44th Annual Meeting in Huntsville, or if you followed from afar on social media, I am sure you agree it was a week to remember. Heck, you could have been under a rock and still heard about the annual meeting given the national media attention it received! The annual meeting truly captured the spirit of this year’s theme Pay It Forward, and for that I could not have been happier. Even if there hadn’t been a significant political controversy before the meeting began, this meeting’s sessions and keynotes would have been awesome anyway. Clearly the issue took the meeting to the next level. There were several highlights I would like to recap for you.

The Friday before the annual meeting began, there was a politically charged affront to the integrity of operational meteorology regarding the expected impacts of Hurricane Dorian. Though directed at the NWS Office in Birmingham, Alabama, every one of us felt the sting of having our duty to serve the public called into question. The issue was immediately addressed Monday morning, and NWS Director Dr. Louis Uccellini received a spontaneous standing ovation for defending the mission of the NWS and of all operational meteorologists. I was extremely proud of how all 685 attendees stood together and rallied around not just NWS Birmingham, but the entire community. Politics have no place in operational meteorology and should never get in the way of our duty to serve the public. We (the NWA Board of Directors) worked behind the scenes between sessions to craft two statements on the matter, one of which was a joint statement with the American Meteorological Society. I was amazed how quickly and efficiently we were able to come together and release those statements. Thanks to all who helped. You know who you are.

I was also extremely proud of how everyone handled a challenging situation throughout the week. They conducted themselves professionally throughout the meeting, especially when some on social media suggested otherwise. Words can’t describe how thankful I am for this, because it reflects on the character of the NWA.

Aside from the political controversy, which made for interesting discussion throughout the week, the Pay It Forward theme really came through. The keynote speakers and sessions represented the spirit of Pay It Forward well. I was especially in awe of Tuesday’s keynote right before lunch by former NWS employee Angie Lese. She spoke from the heart, and showed enormous courage talking about sexual harassment she has personally gone through. She also shared stories from some of you. This is a critical topic and one which we cannot and will not brush off. We all need to be advocates for those that are victimized in our community. I hope Angie was a voice for those of you who have gone through this, and that you know you are NOT alone. There are people in your lives that will listen and help. Let’s keep this discussion going!

Right after Angie’s remarks, the Supporting Women in Meteorology luncheon on Tuesday was outstanding. I believe we had our biggest turnout ever, and during the luncheon discussion centered on how to be an advocate. Below is a photo showing the crowd that attended. Thanks to Faith Borden, Jennifer Hogan, and the NWA Diversity Committee for organizing the luncheon.

We did a few things at the annual meeting to get away from normal “death by PowerPoint” that I hope continues and grows with each successive annual meeting. I thought that the session on mental health was a topic long overdue for discussion, and one which we need to keep in the spotlight by making Pay It Forward an everyday thing. The stress associated with operational meteorology, and of life in general, is serious, and when you superimpose mental illness on that stress, many lives and careers are adversely impacted. Thanks to NWA Special Appreciation Award winner Becky DePodwin and so many others for bringing this topic to the forefront. Finally, on Sunday we had a fantastic Integrated Warning Team meeting organized by Keith Stellman, Tish Atwell, Laura Belanger, Steve LIstema and Betsy Kling. Everyone had a fun time and I believe many also gained an understanding of what operational forecasters go through during a high impact weather event. Thanks to all who helped pull off that major feat at the annual meeting.

The numbers are nearly final—with around 685 attendees the 2019 NWA Annual Meeting in Huntsville set the records for most attendees ever. That is AMAZING! As you know, the annual meeting is a huge revenue generator for our association, and this is especially true with strong numbers of attendees. Thank you for attending. Tell your friends and co-workers how amazing it was, and encourage them to attend next year in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

It takes a village to organize and run a successful annual meeting. It is impossible to thank everyone in this message, but I want to finish by thanking those that played a huge role in putting the meeting together. Trisha Palmer and Dan Gallagher were the co-chairs in charge of herding all the cats and making all the posters, oral presentations, sessions, and special events work and flow together. They were amazing. Thanks to Betsy Kling and Mike Goldberg for organizing the broadcast sessions. Thanks to Bryan Wood, Amber Liggett, and John Banghoff for organizing the student conference. Thanks to the NWA Staff Bryce McElhaney and Nicole Van Every, and to Factor 110 and Blue Circle Productions for handling registration, audio/visual, and everything else they did to make the attendee experience excellent. Thanks to Lara Pagano for running the awards ceremony during Wednesday’s luncheon. We finished a bit ahead of schedule. And also a huge thank you to all our sponsors and exhibitors, and a special thank you to this year's Title Sponsor, Baron, for the Sunday Food Truck lunch and all the support they provided. See our list of sponsors and exhibitors in the Annual Meeting Recap article.

Finally, I want you to know how fortunate we are to have Janice Bunting as our CEO. She was recently recognized as the George Nigh Association Executive of the Year from the Oklahoma Society of Association Executives. That is the highest award they present annually. Many of the things she does go unnoticed, because she does such a good job making everything run smoothly. This was especially true in the weeks leading up to the annual meeting and during the annual meeting, which was stressful for all of us given the backdrop. She is the rock of the NWA, and the next time you see her be sure to tell her how much you appreciate her as I am doing with this month’s message. Thanks Janice!

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Annual Meeting Recap
by Bryce McElhaney, NWA Communications and Marketing Coordinator

Numbers are still being finalized, but we’re currently seeing a record-high of 685 Annual Meeting Attendees—beating our previous record of 674 attendees at the 40th Annual Meeting at Oklahoma City in 2015.

Here’s a breakdown of this year’s attendees and presenters:




Our sponsors are the best and they deserve a lot of credit for making it a big success. Thank you for your generosity and support! The Huntsville/Madison County Visitors and Convention Bureau and Von Braun Center, along with the city of Huntsville, were wonderful hosts and partners for the meeting. They went above and beyond to assist us, and it was a pleasure working with them.

And a very special thank you this year's Title Sponsor, Baron. Check out Baron's recap video of the event. The Sunday lunch food truck event they sponsored and organized was a blast, and the food was so good! Mr. Bob Baron, Susan Sulkowski, Mike Mougey, Kim Grantham, Dan Gallagher and all the Baron staff rallied to support the meeting. Thank you!

NWA 2019 Annual Meeting Sponsors


NWA 2019 Annual Meeting Exhibitors

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NWA Annual Award Winner Photos

Congratulations again to the recipients of the National Weather Association 2019 Annual Awards! 

NWA President Paul Schlatter presents awards to Justin Pullin, Tom Johnstone and Jennifer Nichols from NWS Tallahasee.   NWA President Paul Schlatter presents awards to Justin Pullin, Tom Johnstone and Jennifer Nichols from NWS Tallahassee.   

The “Operational Individual Achievement Award” was presented to Justin Pullin at the National Weather Service – Tallahassee, Florida, for dedicated, selfless, lifesaving service to the Bay County, Florida Emergency Operations Center before, during and after Hurricane Michael. The “Operational Group Achievement Award” was presented to National Weather Service – Tallahassee, Florida for providing life-saving forecasts, warnings and decision support services across Florida and Georgia before, during and after category-5 Hurricane Michael. Congratulations to Justin Pullin and NWS Tallahassee!

Bedarius Bell Jr. with Jennifer Saari, who nominated Bell for the "Walter J. Bennet Public Service Award."
Bedarius Bell Jr. with Jennifer Saari, who nominated Bell for the "Walter J. Bennet Public Service Award."

The “Walter J. Bennett Public Service Award” was presented to Bedarius Bell Jr. for exemplary and dedicated service in helping the NWS promote weather safety and education for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing. Congratulations, Bedarius!

NWA President Paul Schlatter presents the "Aviation Meteorology Award" to Fedex Weather Service.NWA President Paul Schlatter presents the "Aviation Meteorology Award" to FedEx Weather Service.

The “Aviation Meteorology Award” was presented to FedEx Weather Service for exemplary teamwork and service to the aviation community in the Mid-South region. Congratulations, FedEx Weather Service!

 East Mississippi NWA Chapter with the "Local Chapter Award."East Mississippi NWA Chapter with the "Local Chapter Award."

The “Local Chapter Award” was presented to East Mississippi NWA Chapter for providing unique opportunities to career growth and improving the connection between chapter members with the local community and national organizations. Congratulations, East Mississippi NWA Chapter!

NWA President Paul Schlatter presents Lelan Statom with the "Broadcaster of the Year Award."NWA President Paul Schlatter presents Lelan Statom with the "Broadcaster of the Year Award."

The “Broadcaster of the Year Award” was presented to Lelan Statom at WTVF-TV for serving central Tennessee and southern Kentucky with accurate and timely weather forecasts for 26 years with a strong passion for giving back to the community. Congratulations, Lelan!

NWA President Paul Schlatter presents the "Larry R. Johnson Award" to Jordan Gerth and Scott Lindstrom.NWA President Paul Schlatter presents the "Larry R. Johnson Award" to Jordan Gerth and Scott Lindstrom.

The “Larry R. Johnson Award” was presented to Jordan Gerth and Scott Lindstrom at CIMSS/SSEC for outstanding efforts in educating operational meteorologists on the uses and benefits of the new GOES series of satellites. Congratulations, Jordan and Scott!

Michael R. Smith with the "Special Lifetime Achievement Award."Michael R. Smith with the "Special Lifetime Achievement Award."

The “Special Lifetime Achievement Award” was presented to Michael R. Smith at MSE Creative Consulting and former WeatherData, Inc. CEO for nearly 50 years of innovative and creative service to the Weather Enterprise dedicated to saving lives, property, and capital with critically accurate weather and warning information. Congratulations, Michael!


NWA President Paul Schlatter presents the "Special Appreciation Award" to Rebecca DePodwin.NWA President Paul Schlatter presents the "Special Appreciation Award" to Rebecca DePodwin.

The “Special Appreciation Award” was presented to Rebecca DePodwin at AccuWeather for her efforts in raising awareness of mental health, work/life balance, and issues for women in meteorology. Congratulations, Rebecca!

Nezette RydellNezette Rydell

The “J. Kevin Lavin Award” was presented to Nezette Rydell at NOAA/NWS for over 30 years of exemplary leadership, mentorship, and public service in the National Weather Service, and for continuously improving the working environment and service delivery. Congratulations, Nezette!

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A Weather Camp Thank You to the National Weather Association
by Dylan R. Allen and Aaron Serré, How The Weatherworks, Naples, Florida
and Matthew J. Bolton, How The Weatherworks, College of Arts and Sciences, Saint Leo University, Saint Leo, Florida


After a tremendous week of life- and career-changing opportunities at the NWA 44th Annual Meeting, we want to thank everyone—NWA leadership, our fellow presenters, and all attendees of the Meeting—for their warm welcome. We are extremely grateful to the NWA for providing Dylan Allen and Aaron Serré complimentary registrations; and for allowing them to give the Tuesday morning weather briefing and present their research on hurricane evacuation decisions in a poster session and an oral session. We are further grateful to the NWA for allowing them to assist at the Weather-Ready Festival and for facilitating amazing mentorship experiences and networking opportunities in the speed mentoring session and forecasting masterclass. The following paragraphs contain short, personal accounts of Dylan’s and Aaron’s experiences.

Dylan: I would like to begin by saying that the Annual Meeting was life-changing for me. The experiences I was afforded have already allowed me, as only a high school sophomore, to begin my journey into professional meteorology. Early in the week, I was given advice regarding future classes I should focus on (lots of math and science!). Involvement in activities throughout the conference increased my confidence level, and presenting the weather briefing in front of a full house enabled me to more fully realize the passion I have for forecasting. The speed-mentoring session enabled me to grasp a better understanding of the various meteorological career avenues. The presentation sessions I attended permitted me exciting moment-to-moment interactions, allowed me to enhance my communication skills, and invited opportunities to learn about the latest cutting-edge research and work being done in meteorology. The positive affirmations and feedback from all the other attendees towards me were validating and helped me realize that meteorology is indeed where I want to be. I am extremely grateful to have been given the chance to initiate my professional network with such experienced professionals and hope to one day pay these initial conference experiences forward. Thank you all for welcoming me into the meteorological community!

Aaron: I am overwhelmingly grateful to have had the chance to attend the NWA Annual Meeting in Huntsville, Alabama. I was able to connect with many meteorologists who do fantastic work. My first real interactions during the speed-mentoring opened my eyes to how much I want a career in meteorology, and what that is worth to me. I learned so much from the mentors. I also had the opportunity to co-deliver a student weather briefing. It was exciting to see the room full of people who share my passion. Afterwards, I was amazed at the support from my fellow meeting attendees for giving the briefing as a high school senior, and to see how that continued when my team and I presented our research at a poster session and also as a talk. Many meteorologists flocked to our poster to learn about our project on hurricane evacuation decisions. Those interactions helped me see how applicable our research is to the field and enhanced my public speaking skills. Overall, I could not have asked for a better time at the conference. I am inspired to become the best I can be and think of the conference as the beginning to my professional relationship with meteorology.

Dylan and Aaron: In closing, to those who encouraged us during the week or who exchanged business cards with us and to those who discussed our research or attended our weather briefing—thank you for believing in two high school students passionate about weather. We will continue forward on our journeys and hope to make you proud.

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NWA Statements
The National Weather Association released the following statements during the 44th Annual Meeting in Huntsville, AL:
Joint Statement from NWA and AMS

The past few days have been unprecedented for the weather community. As much as we dedicate our professions to societal resilience, this week we have proven our own resilience.

We come out of this past week with one wonderful piece of evidence: we in the weather community are a tightly knit group whose camaraderie transcends the boundaries of a standard professional group. We have studied, trained and worked together for more years of our lives than not. We have shared life events together and been by each other’s side through weddings, births, and losing loved ones. We have a shared interest, passion, and mission to help save lives and understand this remarkable natural phenomenon of weather. We have a shared pride in our work because we know we are making a difference and we do it with honor and integrity.

So it’s no surprise that this past week has been an emotional one for everyone. From the top ranks to the bottom, we all feel pain when this community is hurt. In many ways, we are a true professional family and that relationship was tested this week. Yet we prevailed. Issues will come and go but the dedication of this group is long lasting; the dedication to both our profession and each other. It has been heartwarming to see the sincerity, respect, and forgiveness that many in our community have shown and it proves we are, indeed, resilient and have a long future ahead together.

NWA's Response in Support of Meteorologists

Operational meteorologists work tirelessly around the clock to protect the American public from natural hazards. These dedicated individuals strive to clearly communicate the threats and impacts to our communities, navigating the complex and evolving systems Mother Nature provides us to empower leaders in our communities to make life-saving decisions.

Meteorologists commit to the highest integrity, grit, and heart to help those around them. The NWA is proud to represent these individuals who remain dedicated to serving our country as a trusted source of weather information. As weather risks evolve, so too do the needs of those seeking reliable support in the face of weather, water, and climate disasters.

As we strive toward our vision of promoting excellence in operational meteorology to benefit society, the NWA will continue to nurture a space for constructive dialog to further that vision and to find novel ways to serve our neighbors, our partners, and the American public.

 - Paul Schlatter, NWA President

COMET Quarterly Announcement Fall 2019
by David Russi, Translation Coordinator UCAR/COMET

Greetings from Boulder, Colorado, where Summer is hanging on, but morning temperatures tell us fall is surely not too far away. We’d like to share two interesting milestones reached by COMET over the course of the Summer: We now have over 600,000 registered users on MetEd, and together they have completed over 1,000,000 quizzes!

Links to COMET’s latest publications on MetEd are below. Over the past three months we published four new lessons in English, three new lessons in Spanish, and one lesson in Greek.

New COMET Lessons in English

Communicating Wind Risk through Tropical Watches and Warnings 

Critical Fire Weather Patterns 

The Forecast Process: Using the Forecast Funnel 

GOES-16/JPSS Case Exercise: Monitoring the Rhea Oklahoma Grassland Fire 


New COMET Lessons in Spanish:

Convección severa: sistemas convectivos de mesoescala

Nociones de estadística aplicada a la climatología 

Los instrumentos y la medición del viento 


New COMET Lesson in Greek:

Βασικές αρχές κατακόρυφων κινήσεων μεταφοράς I: Άνωση και CAPE 

Currently, these materials are freely available to everyone, courtesy of our primary sponsors: NOAA's NWS, NESDIS and National Ocean Service programs, EUMETSAT, the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, the Meteorological Service of Canada, Bureau of Meteorology, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation.

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NWA Event Calendar 

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In Memoriam
by Janice Bunting, NWA Executive Director

It was with great sadness that we learned that Carol Lavin had passed away suddenly on August 17. Carol was the wife of former NWA Executive Director Kevin Lavin, and his partner in making sure the NWA operated smoothly for over a decade.

Carol Lavin with her husband, former NWA Executive Director Kevin Lavin.Carol Lavin with her husband, former NWA Executive Director Kevin Lavin.

Carol was a friend to many of us, and a fun person to be around. She was a strong, spunky, and dedicated woman who was devoted to Kevin and her family. I always enjoyed visiting with her about gardening, her kids and grandkids, the NWA and more.

She assisted Kevin with many NWA and Air Weather Association projects, and those who have attended NWA Annual Meetings for many years got to know Carol well.

Carol Lavin stationed at a registration desk during an NWA Annual Meeting.Carol Lavin stationed at a registration desk during an NWA Annual Meeting.

Kevin wrote Carol’s obituary, and it is a loving tribute to Carol. Donations may be made to a charity of the donors choosing or the St. Thomas Aquinas Church Building Fund.

The NWA extends it deepest sympathies to Kevin and his family. Carol will be missed so much.

We would also like to thank NWA Past President Steve Zubrick for representing the NWA at Carol’s mass and celebration of life.


It was also with great sadness that we learned that NWA member Alex Herbst passed away on September 11, 2019. He was a broadcast meteorologist at KGBT CBS Valley 4 in Harlingen, Texas, at the time of his death.

Alex was a highly respected NWA member and volunteer. He first joined the NWA as a student member in 2014 and had consistently been a member since then. In 2018, he became a volunteer on the NWA Awards and Membership and Marketing Committees.

Both committee chairs praised his work, and Lara Pagano stated, “He was an amazing contributor to the NWA Awards Committee.  I spoke yesterday at the NWA Awards Banquet. The first award was the Local Chapter of the Year Award, one in which Alex had drafted for me. I spoke his words yesterday to some of his peers at MSU.” The East Mississippi Chapter of the NWA and AMS dedicated their NWA Local Chapter Award to Alex.

After earning a bachelor’s degree at Plymouth State University, he went to Mississippi State University and earned his master’s degree in broadcast meteorology and geosciences. He served as a local chapter president at both universities.

Alex’s obituary is here. The family recommends these options for those wishing to honor Alex with a donation. The Alex Herbst Memorial Scholarship at Plymouth State University, or Habitat for Humanity, or the soon-to-be-established Alex Herbst Memorial Scholarship at Mississippi State University where a Tree of Life fund has also been started.

Our deepest condolences to Alex’s family and friends. His friendship and dedication to keeping people safe will be missed.

The American Psychological Association Help Center:

More information

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New Seal Holder


Congratulations to Caitlin Napoleoni on earning her TV Weathercaster Seal of Approval!

Follow Caitlin on Facebook and Twitter.

See all the other members who have earned a TV, Radio, or Digital Seal here, and more information on becoming a Seal Holder here.

More information will be provided on Caitlin in our November issue.

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October Webinar Wednesday

Did you miss our latest webinar? Register and watch October Webinar Wednesday: “A Machine Learning Approach to Severe Thunderstorm Downburst Prediction Across Phoenix, AZ."

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

ISSN 0271-1044

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