With our recent webinar, What Are You Getting From Your Weather Forecasting App?, behind us – listen back here if you missed it – we spoke with co-presenter Robert Pinard, Iteris’ forecast operations manager, about his background in weather.
Rob is part of the team of meteorologists that staff our Weather Operations Center 24/7 in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
As one of our expert meteorologists, part of Rob's job is to help our customers understand their weather and pavement forecasts. During a major storm or polar vortex, Rob is someone cities and municipalities around the country rely on to walk them through the situation.
What got you started in weather?
I became fascinated with the weather when I was a young kid....maybe 6 or 7. Growing up in Minneapolis we had the summer thunderstorms as well as large winter storms. I was always drawn more to the winter weather because a big snow storm would get us a day off of school. I used to watch the weather on the news religiously, so I always would know what was expected to happen. I even drew up my own weather maps.
What are some of the most challenging weather events you have experienced?
I think one of the most challenging weather events was the winter of 96/97 in the Northern Plains. Throughout the winter we had record snowfall and numerous blizzards which made forecasting a challenge but also getting around town a challenge. Then in the spring of 97 the Red River flooded from the snow melt. Our entire town of Grand Forks ended up flooding and everyone had to be evacuated. So just that whole winter, with the flood to boot, was very taxing.
What's most challenging with daily weather forecasting is trying to take the model guidance and make it better using my knowledge and experience from forecasting for over 20 years. While model guidance has gotten much better over the last few decades, most model guidance is still wrong to a point. The challenge of trying to take a rough draft of what may happen with a storm system and being able to improve on that by adding my own knowledge is rewarding. This is probably one of the things I do love about my job. Although, there are times when your "improvements" don't always work out.
What do you love about your job?
I enjoy coming to work and talking weather with my co-workers, trying to figure out the future. Many times we will be chatting about weather that is taking place in another state or country...usually it is some sort of extreme event. I also enjoy talking with all the customers that do call in to the office and are looking for a little more advice on the forecast or have a question they need answered. I enjoy trying to teach them just a little bit of how the atmosphere works and why this or that may happen.
Do you have a favorite type of weather?
I've always loved winter storms and winter in general, although as I get older the really cold temperatures are starting to wear on me. Sunny and 72 F is starting to look a lot better, especially since I love to golf. I love a good thunderstorm, especially one with a lot of lightning. I always get a thrill waiting for the storm to roll into town.
For more weather insights, follow @Iteris_Weather on Twitter.
About the Author:
Rebecca Sakayeda is marketing manager, Agriculture and Weather Analytics at Iteris.