Sunday, February 9, 2014


I havent been a big fan of the annual meeting. It is simply too big. This is partly my fault, because my interests are varied. I like to get around and see many different types of talks. You just never know when inspiration might strike or when you might learn a new technique, a new way of thinking about a problem by getting out of your comfort zone.

This time after realizing that almost every session I wanted to sit in on had competing sessions I was interested in, I folded. I became a speaker and networker rather than a viewer. Though I did my fair share of live tweeting when I was a viewer. So go ahead and check the tweets if you missed it.

The town hall session on FACETs (forecasting a continuum of environmental threats) was pretty good. Lans led off with some serious power point on the 7 linear pillars of FACETs. Once we got that intro out of the way, we got to hear from our social scientists. It was pretty clear that although we all speak science, we don't speak quite the same way. So there is plenty of work to do before we can really get to the mutually beneficial relationship we desire. Laura did a great job of getting the talk rolling so it truly felt like a town hall where people got to share. We all took a survey about who we are, what we do, what our interests are, and what problems we are interested in, and what issues we think we should address. Susan and Jen took copious notes, so mad props for keeping pace.

I also saw Craig Fugate from FEMA speak. I "met" him during last years HWT EFP, so getting to hear him formally speak (without power point) was nice. He was talking about building better, smarter, and with a purpose. That purpose centered around "the past has changed". We can not just build back after a disaster. We have to build to withstand future changes. Factoring in these potential changes and not just past events is the key to being adaptive and resilient. It is simply not possible to budget for disasters given our current vulnerability nor potential future vulnerability.

Jack, Harold, Joe, Rick, and I were up Wednesday for our panel on the May tornadoes. While we proposed a panel session with each of us speaking individually, it was clear that wasn't doing the panel justice. This became clear a while back when Jack decided to read us his field notes from observing at the WFO during the Newcastle-OKC-Moore tornado of 20 May. That script secured our position on doing an integrated panel. While we assembled the information and shared the slides, the data was being passed around at a fast pace. I even forgot to add the last of the graphics, trying to make sure all the details were good! So our first time going through the whole slide deck together, was at the panel. That made it raw and it sure felt raw and unscripted. (So much so, I wasnt really sure how it went when it was all done.)

I ran the slides, standing for nearly 75 minutes (thanks for staying into the poster session!) and it was great. Thankfully, that May feeling, came and went. I think we all avoided speaking while having that almost tears in your eyes feeling, or so we discussed afterwards. It truly was a team effort and I felt proud of our work together and the conversation we had with our audience. An audience member thanked us for that aspect of the panel, and I raised my arms in victory. I guess Harold and Jack high-fived or so I found out later! That "May feeling" got a little further away.

A few people even requested an encore presentation back at the NWC. We will probably oblige, though I can probably add the new graphics and redo some slides just so it is a little better slide wise. I just want to say what an awesome experience it was to work with you all on this. Lots of people in the community helped to make information available including my friend Dr. Chris Karstens, OU CIMMS, who made the tornado track maps for me on last minute notice. It got slightly more real and awesome when Joe checked the tweets from our panel. We might need to make a graphic of that!

Riding on the high of having an awesome panel, Thursday I gave my talk on my work involving the NSSL-WRF model. It went well, but 12 minutes to do #science is getting harder and harder to do. Explaining graphics takes up precious time, and I found myself not explaining them as much as I would like while watching TIME tick away. Always seems like the clock ticks faster when you are talking than when you are listening.

The highlight of Thursday though was when my REU student, Mallory Row, of the Valparaiso clan, presented her work. She rocked it. And thats not personal bias. At least 5 people came up to me to tell me how great she did. A few even mentioned best student presenter. Needless to say we high fived before and after her talk because I knew she would do great. Thats how we roll.

Aside from that I got to spend considerable time with Dr. Susan Jasko and we got to share and talk shop and become better friends. Much like the Olympics, our circles intertwined and we meshed colleagues, so hopefully this is the start of being more integrated, more open, and more productive in our shared future endeavors.  I met with many colleagues, some of whom I had taught or schooled with, and met with my future mentee' Pamela. Catching up with the UAlbany folks, meeting new colleagues, and generally getting comfortable with the annual meeting.

While it may have been bigger than I could handle, it served its purpose. And for the first time in a long time I felt like a part of the community.  Thanks ya'll!