NORMAN, Okla. – March is Women’s History Month, and we want to celebrate a woman originally from Granite City.

Her name is Liz Leitman, and she is a meteorologist at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. The Granite City High School graduate’s job is to assess the storm risk around the country. But it is a Lead Forecaster that issues thunderstorm or tornado watches. And those lead forecasters had always been men.

That is, until Feb. 15, 2023.

“Recently, I started training on the lead forecaster desk so I can assist in issuing those severe thunderstorm and tornado watches,” explains Leitman. “And that’s what I was doing on February 15 when I had the opportunity to issue the first watch issued by a female forecaster at the Storm Prediction Center.”

In the 70-year history of the Storm Prediction Center, no woman had ever issued a storm watch until Leitman. Why? Like many science fields, meteorology has historically been male dominated.

“At SPC, for the last 10 years, I was the only female forecaster out of 22 forecasters,” she said. “Recently, we hired another female. So, now there are two of us.”

And SPC lead forecaster vacancies don’t come around often. Many stay in that position for 15 to 25 years.

“I’ve just been lucky enough to stay in my position long enough where I’ve had the opportunity to train on the lead desk,” Leitman said.

Leitman is happy her accomplishment is raising awareness for women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. She is also glad to see more women pursuing a career in weather.

“Our job is really difficult with rotating shift work. It poses a lot of challenges,” she said. “And I think our organization recognizes that, and they are taking steps to try to help with work-life balance.”

She wants girls and women to not let anyone stand in the way of following their dreams.

“Don’t let anyone else determine your path. Got for it. And there will be other women along the way there to help you,” Leitman said.