National Weather Service meteorologists share what forecasting is like during a pandemic

Weather Blog

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Most people had to quickly adjust to working and schooling from home back in March. That includes the scientists at the National Weather Service office in St Louis.

“We’re still doing our mission, lifesaving warnings and forecasts. We are still staffed 24 -7. We have two people in the building for each shift,” explains Kevin Deitsch, Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the local NWS.

But since March, management, administrative, and IT staff have all been teleworking to limit the amount of people in the Weldon Spring office. 

“We’ve used webcams to be able to talk face to face with each other. We have a morning tag up to get everyone on camera, everyone saying hi, and seeing everyone’s smiling faces. We’ve got such a great sense of camaraderie at our office and technology’s really been able to enhance that through these tough times. “

As you would expect, the threat of strong storms means some extra team members will be called in to help. But others find ways to pitch in remotely.

“Whether it’s helping out with social media, or helping make phone calls to partners, or another set of eyes on radar. So, we do have ways that we’ve been able to limit some of the staff we have to bring in for severe weather,” explains Deitsch.

During the stay-at-home orders, many have longed for good weather days to be able to do things like give their kids outside recess, take a family walk, or go for a bike ride. The staff of the National Weather Service can feel the extra eyes on their forecast.

“I like to get outside. I’m a big runner. So, I’ve even been more peeled to the forecast than I normally would. I really want those sunny, warm days. So, I think a lot of people are. And you know, your moods sort of go with the weather these days.“

As states begin to reopen, many businesses have questions about what a return to regular operations will look like and that’s no different for the weather service.

“We’re still going to listen to local and state officials on what the latest is for our local area. And internally, we’ll listen to local management and our regional management to make decisions about if we come back to normal operations. How’s that going to look like. How many people we bring in,” says Deitsch. “We’re taking it easy for now. Still socially distancing as best we can, and we’ll start to make those decisions down the road.”

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