Author: Kirsten Barber and Meredith Hemphill
NC Emergency Management employees prepare North Carolinians for disasters in a variety of ways, but today we recognize one team that is essential in natural disasters. Today is National Weatherperson’s Day, so we are spotlighting two meteorologists who comprise the weather reporting team for the department. National Weatherperson’s Day honors individuals in the fields of meteorology, weather forecasting and broadcast meteorology to celebrate the birthday of John Jeffries, one of the first weather observers to take daily measurements.
Diana Thomas and Laura Youngman don’t just pull weather forecasts. Their responsibilities are vast and vital to team preparations and response to weather emergencies. The team composes daily weather updates that highlight any potential hazards that should be monitored. Always committed to consistency in messaging, NCEM meteorologists work closely with federal partners like the National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center, Storm Prediction Center, Weather Prediction Center and River Forecast Centers to gather and share data. Their insight on potential weather-related threats helps NC Emergency Management Director Will Ray and his team make decisions such as moving resources to areas that may be impacted, securing needed commodities and/or activating the State Emergency Operations Center.
When activated for emergencies, the meteorologist team briefs State Emergency Response Team partners twice daily on the weather and any changes that may affect decision-making for individuals responding during storms. These updates can include precipitation types and amounts, wind conditions, flooding and more. In fact, they even provide insight on flying conditions for the safety of aerial search and rescue teams. They also brief the governor and departmental leadership prior to press conferences. Post-disaster, NCEM meteorologists will gather information regarding disaster declaration using data derived from the NWS or the NC State Climate Office.
“During blue sky days, we’re preparing for any kind of response we may have,” Thompson said. “We attend conferences and trainings and learn about any updates we may have in our forecasting tools.”
Outside of weather forecasting and reporting, NCEM meteorologists develop graphics for preparedness campaigns—you may have seen some of them on the NC Emergency Management social media channels—and participate in several state emergency management events and conferences.
In addition to their meteorological roles, Thomas and Youngman have served as subject matter experts within the planning section on Incident Management Teams for emergency management exercises. Thomas has also served in various positions of the NCEM planning section, including Planning Section Chief, Deputy Planning Section Chief, Resource Unit Lead and Situation Unit Lead. While serving on the Incident Management Teams in plans section roles, she has rendered assistance in Puerto Rico and Hawaii.
So, on this National Weatherperson’s Day, be sure to thank your meteorologists. Observe the weather in your own backyard in honor of John Jeffries and all those who have followed in his footsteps.
On February 5th, the nation commemorates the birthday of John Jeffries by celebrating National Weatherperson’s Day. Jeffries was born in 1744 or 1745. He was a well-respected Boston physician. He was even the family physician to John Adams. But Jeffries also had a passion for meteorology.
In 1774, he began taking daily weather observations in Boston. In 1784, he took the first weather observation by balloon over London, during the first balloon ride to cross the English Channel. He carried with him a thermometer, barometer, and hygrometer, among other instruments—to a height of over 6500 feet!
Jeffries kept detailed records of the weather in Boston until 1816, with some disruption during the Revolutionary War. This was in additional to keeping methodical records of all his important medical cases. Jeffries died September 16th, 1819.