My Somewhat Meteorologist Pal

While watching live coverage of last month’s tornado disaster occuring across Alabama and Georgia, I couldn’t help remarking to myself that Doug would have loved watching the footage with me. My late friend was, for all intents and purposes, an avid meteorologist.

During his senior year in high school, Doug worked part-time for the National Weather Service office here in Norfolk, Nebraska. As he often said, “Working at the Weather Bureau was the best time of my life.” Doug was a walking encyclopedia of meteorolgical data. He could point to any seemingly mundane cloud then describe it’s life-cycle and how it might eventually dissipate.

His apartment was set up with basic weather instruments–a nice barometer, several scientific-grade thermometers, binoculars, and so forth. Doug’s pride and joy was a Heathkit “Weather Station” that he assembled himself. The weather station was outfitted with an anemometer and a wind guage for monitoring winds. He later added an electric rain guage to keep track of moisture.

He was so adept at predicting weather events, that I depended more on my friend’s forecasting than that of the local weather service office. One year before Doug’s death, he finally replaced his beloved weather station with a brand-new high-tech, semi-professional monitoring system that he connected to the Internet.

Early in our friendship, I asked Doug why he did not become a professional meteorologist–he could have made a decent living predicting weather. Doug answered that since he never served in the military, it was difficult to obtain the mandatory certification to do so. Although I knew military service was not a requirement for weather service certification, I did not press him on it. The certification question was a sore spot for him. I’m sure he had plenty of regrets about not following through on his dream.

That said, in addition to his forecasting skills, Doug had a corny sense of humor and loved to drop puns into conversation without warning. With such a combination, Doug could have become an amazing television weatherman. I sometimes mentioned this to him, but he always brushed off my comments.

Meantime, he enjoyed stopping by the radio station to observe my goings on during tornado or blizzard emergencies. If there was no news department staff on hand, Doug volunteered to bring wire-service copy for me to read on the air. After a newsperson’s arrival, Doug would sit aside in the control room and watch me work. It was great to have my best friend nearby while I told the public to take shelter during tornado warnings. I asked him to participate with commentary, but Doug always refused my offer. He preferred to sit at the sidelines. I still wish he could have joined in. I’m sure the audience would have loved his participation.

After my friend moved to Phoenix, Arizona, his weather hobby continued in full force. He kept track of statistics and created regional forecasts for his own enjoyment. He also monitored satellite images of atmospheric conditions over Nebraska. Whenever severe weather was on tap for Norfolk, Doug notified me of its possibility and what I should expect to experience.

Many were the days he liked to brag about the balmy weather of Phoenix being better than the bitterly cold blizzard conditions I was going through. I took advantage of Karma whenever Nebraska conditions were more favorable than those in Arizona–especially regarding extreme heat and dust storms. The good-natured razzing about Nebraska weather is one thing I miss about Doug.

So whenever the weather takes a quirky turn, I usually think about Doug and how much he’d probably revel in observing its fury. I could then enjoy hearing his analysis of the atmospheric conditions that caused the particular storms.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes guitarist, singer, and songwriter, John Mayer. “Sometimes I wish that I was the weather, you’d bring me up in conversation forever. And when it rained, I’d be the talk of the day.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
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12 Responses to My Somewhat Meteorologist Pal

  1. paescapee says:

    What an interesting blog and such warm feelings towards your friend. I’ve never been interested in the weather before but I now live on a hill where I can see the rain advancing upon my area and it is fascinating to watch!

  2. Coy says:

    Must be the record for a Heathkit in longest continuous use.

  3. mariezhuikov says:

    My brother is a meteorologist, so I can relate!

  4. It is interesting how some people who are very interested and qualified hold back while other much less qualified people plunge into a profession. It must have been nice to have a personal meteorologist as well as a great friend.

  5. Interesting to read about your friend Doug and his hobby

  6. Though your friend Doug did not become a meteorologist, he continued to live out his passion. Sometimes, our dreams get lost due to unforeseen circumstances in our lives or through some fear within ourselves to take the leap and believe in ourselves.

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