Tornado touchdown by Justin Langford
The American Meteorological Society (AMS) recently celebrated its centennial anniversary — a milestone event for any organization, and one worthy of celebration. It is also an appropriate moment to step back and look at an organization’s vision and mission with fresh eyes. When AMS did that and refreshed its strategic goals in 2019 (its 100th year), included in them were goals aimed at better communicating our science to broad audiences. The Society takes these goals seriously, and among new initiatives that endeavor to reach out beyond our core membership of professionals in the field was the creation of the AMS Weather Band.
We see the AMS Weather Band as an engaging and welcoming community of individuals of all backgrounds who share an intense interest in the weather. The word “community” is a key one in this description, and the sense of forming a group with a common bond and purpose led us to call this a “band” (along with the connection to atmospheric phenomena, like rainbands, etc., of course!). The Weather Band is for all of us who are fascinated with the wide range of phenomena we see in the atmosphere, from the power of hurricanes to the delicacy of a dendritic snowflake.
I am lucky enough to have been able to pursue a career in meteorology. Like many who have made weather our profession, my interest in the atmosphere goes back to early childhood. Even as a preschooler, I spent much of my days staring at the clouds and taking in that slow-motion dance in the sky as they changed before my eyes (I think my mom was worried about me at times). Growing up in central Ohio, I had the chance to experience the power of thunderstorms firsthand and had taken notice of the blast of cool air that preceded the rain long before I knew it was called a gust front. I was nine when the Palm Sunday tornadoes wreaked havoc on several midwestern states, including Ohio. (For the definitive summary of that tornado outbreak, see the marvelous article by T. Fujita and coauthors. ) I still have vivid memories of my family driving through the countryside afterward and seeing the destruction. Perhaps that is what sealed my fate as a future meteorologist, but I suspect I was already well on the path by then.
I have met so many people over the years who, upon learning I am a meteorologist, excitedly tell me how fascinated they are with the weather and then begin peppering me with questions about different weather phenomena, or climate change, or how computer models work. I love these conversations. And that is what I see the AMS Weather Band being — one huge ongoing conversation among people eager to learn more about how the atmosphere works, sharing their own experiences and observations, while engaging with experts who can give them insights into the latest research results, new observational capabilities, new forecast techniques, and a host of other topics in which so many of us share an interest.
I think this is going to be wildly enjoyable for all of us, and I want to warmly welcome all of you who join the Weather Band. I doubt you will be sorry you did. This is going to be a lot of fun!
Dr. Keith L. Seitter
AMS Executive Director