School of Meteorology 50th Anniversary Event
Friday 8 October 2010 - Sunday 10 October 2010
National Weather Center, Norman, OK
Welcome | Events | Attendees | Photos/Video | History | Reminiscences
The School invites you to attend its 50th Anniversary Celebration at the National Weather Center on Oct. 8-10, 2010. We will be hosting a number of special events and activities for our alumni, alumnae, and friends to commemorate the golden anniversary.
An Anniversary Symposium (Friday, Oct. 8) will feature survey talks given by distinguished alumni on (1) SoM History (John Lewis, Jeff Kimpel, Fred Carr and Ming-Ying Wei); (2) Storm-chasing and tornado research (Lou Wicker, Dan Rusk, and Robin Tanamachi); (3) Radar Meteorology (Joe Friday, Pam Heinselman, and Don Burgess); and (4) Observations and numerical weather prediction and forecasting (Kelvin Droegemeier, Yvette Richardson, and Chris Fiebrich). A special dinner will be held that night at the Embassy Suites Hotel, with Dr. Jack Hayes, Director of the National Weather Service, as the keynote speaker.
On Saturday, tours are available of the National Weather Center, the 6-7 local radars, local private sector companies, and the OU campus. During that afternoon, everyone is invited to a "nostalgia session" where alums from each decade of SoM's existence will tell humorous stories of what it was like to be a student and meteorology major during their stay at OU. A barbeque dinner will be held that evening in the National Weather Center.
Also, SoM welcomes companies represented by our alumni at a Career Fair which will be held on Thursday, October 7 from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. in the NWC atrium. This would serve as a wonderful opportunity for our current students to be exposed to what they can accomplish in areas of meteorology they might not have previously considered.
On this web page, you will find a more detailed agenda, lodging information, along with a history of SoM through the decades. Merchandise will be available for purchase during the 50th Anniversary Event.
Please email Celia Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions. We look forward to seeing you in October to celebrate this momentous event!
|10:00 AM||-||04:00 PM||Career Fair (NWC Atrium)|
Friday 8 October 2010 - Anniversary Symposium - David L. Boren Auditorium (NWC 1313)
|08:30 AM||-||08:40 AM||Welcome and Introductions|
|08:40 AM||-||09:10 AM||History of SoM 1960-1975 - John Lewis|
|09:10 AM||-||09:40 PM||History of SoM 1975-1990 - Jeff Kimpel|
|09:40 AM||-||09:55 AM||History of SoM 1990-2010 - Fred Carr|
|09:55 AM||-||10:20 AM||Coffee Break|
|10:20 AM||-||10:50 AM||Reflections from an Early Graduate - Foreign and Female. - Ming-Ying Wei|
|10:50 AM||-||12:20 PM||Historical Overview 1: Storm-chasing and tornado research (Lou Wicker, Dan Rusk, and Robin Tanamachi)|
|12:20 PM||-||01:20 PM||Lunch (NWC Atrium)|
|01:20 PM||-||02:50 PM||Historical Overview 2: Radar Meteorology (Joe Friday, Don Burgess, and Pam Heinselman)|
|02:50 PM||-||03:20 PM||Coffee Break|
|03:20 PM||-||04:50 PM||Historical Overview 3: Observations and Numerical Weather Prediction and Forecasting (Kelvin Droegemeier, Yvette Richardson, and Chris Fiebrich)|
|06:15 PM||-||07:15 PM||Reception (Embassy Suites)|
|07:15 PM||-||09:00 PM||Dinner (Embassy Suites). Keynote Speaker: Dr. Jack Hayes, Director of the National Weather Service|
Saturday 9 October 2010
|09:00 AM||-||12:00 PM||NWC, campus, and radar tours; Open houses|
|10:00 AM||-||11:00 AM||Roundtable Discussion on Issues and Concerns of Women and Other Underrepresented Groups in the Atmospheric Sciences (NWC 5600)|
|12:00 PM||-||01:00 PM||Lunch (NWC Atrium)|
|01:00 PM||-||05:30 PM||Reminiscing Session* - David L. Boren Auditorium (NWC 1313)|
|01:00 PM||-||01:40 PM||Memories from the 1960s|
|01:40 PM||-||02:20 PM||Memories from the 1970s|
|02:20 PM||-||03:00 PM||Memories from the 1980s|
|03:00 PM||-||03:30 PM||Coffee Break|
|03:30 PM||-||04:10 PM||Memories from the 1990s|
|04:10 PM||-||04:50 PM||Memories from the 2000s|
|04:50 PM||-||05:10 PM||Future of SoM - Dave Parsons|
|05:10 PM||-||05:30 PM||Future of the College and NWC - Berrien Moore|
|05:30 PM||-||06:00 PM||Reception (NWC Atrium)|
|06:00 PM||-||09:00 PM||BBQ Dinner (NWC Atrium). Possible skits/videos by alumni/alumnae.|
Sunday 10 October 2010 Free time
* SoM reminiscing session. While there will be individuals from each decade to lead off each session, all are welcome to relate a humorous or historical anecdote about their time at OU. At the end, the School of Meteorology Director, and the Dean of the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences and Director of the National Weather Center will talk about their visions for the future of the School, College and NWC.
- Sponsor a Student's Registration Fee: $100
- Sponsor a Table at one of the two dinners: $125 - $300
- Sponsor a Coffee Break or Luncheon: $325 - $975
- Major Sponsor of the 50th Anniversary: $1000 or more
- School of Meteorology
University of Oklahoma
Attn: Nancy Campbell
120 David L. Boren Blvd, Suite 5900
Norman, OK 73072
The story of the School of Meteorology begins in the late 1950s. At that time, Walter Saucier and Yoshi Sasaki, both then at Texas A&M, discussed the need for a meteorology program at the University of Oklahoma because of the richness in weather phenomena in Oklahoma. Sasaki had a special interest in mesoscale meteorology research and felt that his skills in variational analysis and numerical weather prediction could be useful in understanding the physics and dynamics of mesoscale features. They made a number of visits to the OU campus, and with support from Professors Robert Fowler of Physics, Cheddy Sliepcevich of Chemical Engineering, Van Henning, director of the OU Research Institute, Sherril Christian of Chemistry, and OU President George Lynn Cross, Saucier and Sasaki moved to Norman in 1960. Saucier began his tenure at OU as Professor while Sasaki began as a Research Scientist. With great success in his research, Sasaki became Professor of Meteorology in 1967.
In 1961, a number of Saucier's and Sasaki's doctoral students also moved to Norman. Among them were Rex Inman, Victor Whitehead, Stanley Barnes, and Samuel Hall, all of whom were appointed as Special Instructors. After 1961, increasing graduate student enrollment brought such students to OU as Eugene Wilkins, Robert Jones, John Lewis, Walter Bach, and Robert Sheets, all of whom became highly successful meteorologists, along with Joe Friday, who later became director of the National Weather Service. In 1963, Eugene Wilkins earned the first Ph.D. in Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma.
In 1963, the National Severe Storms Laboratory, the first government laboratory for meteorology, moved to OU's North Base under director Ed Kessler. The working research relationships between the University and the Laboratory established a precedent for government-university collaboration and provided jobs for students.
Originally, the new meteorology program was administered through Engineering Physics and the Civil Engineering and Environmental Science programs. The Department of Meteorology came into existence in 1969 within the College of Engineering and offered BS degrees in both the College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences. Beginning in the fall semester of that same year, there was a major change in meteorology faculty with the addition of new faculty members including Professors Duchon, Hall, Holyoke, and Inman. Professor Saucier left to establish a meteorology department at North Carolina State University and Amos Eddy became the new chair of the Department of Meteorology. With the infusion of new faculty came a new direction for the Department of Meteorology and changes were made to existing courses and new courses were added.
Important issues that occupied the faculty in the 1970s included designing an annual faculty evaluation as well as a department evaluation, establishing MS comprehensive and Ph.D. qualifying examinations, and improving the department computer system. The department became the School of Meteorology in 1977. In 1973, Jeff Kimpel began his career at OU which included becoming the Director of the School of Meteorology, then Dean of the College of Geosciences, and then Provost of the University. He later became the Director of the National Severe Storms Laboratory. Howard Bluestein and Fred Carr were added to the faculty in 1976 and 1979, respectively.
Through the efforts of Professor Amos Eddy, the Oklahoma Climatological Survey was created in the 1970s and initially funded through the Provost's Office. The Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies was established in 1978 through the work of Rex Inman, who became its first director. At the end of the decade there were 52 graduate and 115 undergraduate students.
During this period the School of Meteorology grew from adolescence to maturity. After considerable discussion in 1980, the School decided to become a member of the new College of Geosciences along with the School of Geology and Geophysics and the Department of Geography. The first steps in forming the Oklahoma Weather Center were taken by creating the Applied Systems Institute and bringing the Weather Service Forecast Office from Oklahoma City to OU.s North Campus, a move which had the endorsement of the entire congressional delegation from Oklahoma.
Everyone was saddened by the death of Rex Inman in 1983, who had been the longest serving chair to date from 1971-1981. Jeff Kimpel succeeded Inman and developed a plan for increasing the strength of the School of Meteorology by hiring excellent faculty in spite of tough economic times. Through his plan, Doug Lilly and Tzvi Gal-Chen, two very highly regarded scientists, were hired in 1982. They set the standard for a new level of rigor in student and faculty research and helped initiate the desire to push the School to national prominence in meteorology. Brian Fiedler and former OU meteorology graduate Kelvin Droegemeier were hired as assistant professors and Fred Brock, Bill Beasley, and Ken Crawford were brought in at the associate professor level.
The most important event of the decade occurred in December 1988 with the success of the proposal written by Doug Lilly and Kelvin Droegemeier for establishing an 11-year National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center at OU. This was a massive undertaking that involved many of the faculty, other areas of the University, and the NSSL. The result was the creation of the Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms which completed its 11th and final year as an NSF Center in 2000 and went on to re-invent itself as a stand-alone, self-funding research center.
A successful 25th Anniversary celebration was held in November 1985 with many of the faculty who played a role in organizing meteorology at OU in attendance. Professor Eddy retired at the end of 1987 and Ken Crawford succeeded him as SoM director. In these 10 years, the student population rose to 68 graduate and 160 undergraduate students and regular faculty grew to 12.
The fourth decade of meteorology at OU began with the move to Sarkeys Energy Center in May 1991. There were two major developments during the early 1990s. The first was Ken Crawford.s leadership in creating the Oklahoma Mesonet, a premier meteorological network comprising some 115 stations. In addition, Crawford restructured the Oklahoma Climatological Survey to provide more effective climatological service to the people of Oklahoma. The second was Peter Lamb.s leadership in expanding the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies and developing the Southern Great Plains Cloud and Radiation Testbed, one of three world-wide sites in the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Yoshi Sasaki retired in 1993 after 33 years at OU and Doug Lilly retired in 1995. Sasaki and Lilly were both George Lynn Cross research professors and Lilly occupied the Robert E. Lowry Chair, the first endowed chair dedicated to meteorology in the United States. The 35th Anniversary was held in December 1995 and especially honored the work of those two great professors.
New University-wide general education requirements were phased in during the early 1990s and the School of Meteorology undergraduate curriculum was appropriately adjusted. A new required course, the senior Capstone course, was taught for the first time in spring semester of 1994. Two areas of concentration, one with the College of Business and another with Computer Science, allowed meteorology students to trade 12 hours of science and math electives for 12 hours in another area of concentration. In addition, a minor option in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Hydrologic Sciences were established. At the graduate level, Jeff Kimpel developed a Master of Professional Meteorology program, a degree designed to provide graduate students with the skills needed by employers engaged in weather related business.
Eleven new faculty were hired in the 1990s, namely, Jerry Straka, Peter Lamb, Susan Postawko, Bob Crane, Mike Richman, Josh Wurman, Al Shapiro, Ming Xue, and Evgeni Fedorovich, Eugenia Kalnay, who was the second holder of the Lowry chair holder, and John Snow, who became Dean of the College of Geosciences and Director of Weather Center Programs. During the 1990s, the first faculty endowed positions were established including the Robert E. Lowry Chair, the American Airlines Professorship, the Williams Companies Chair, and the Weathernews Inc. Chair. Supercomputing capability was greatly expanded through the introduction of the new Cray and Hitachi supercomputers. Professor Doug Lilly became the first resident of Oklahoma to be selected for membership in the National Academy of Sciences.
In 1996, serious discussion began with respect to the .Norman Consolidation,. a community effort to bring all state and federal meteorology groups in the Norman area under one roof. OU President David Boren was a strong advocate of the consolidation effort and by the end of the decade, President Boren had obtained initial funding for a facility which would become the National Weather Center at the intersection of State Highway 9 and Jenkins Street. At the end of the fourth decade the School of Meteorology had 305 undergraduate students, 68 graduate students, and 18 faculty members.
The fifth decade of the School of Meteorology opened with the School housed (or more exactly, crammed) into the top floors of the Sarkeys Energy Center tower. However, a major effort, guided by Dean John Snow with support from OU President Boren, led to the construction of the National Weather Center, named by President Clinton during his visit to examine the damage from the May 3, 1999 tornado outbreak. On January 1, 2006, the School became part of the new College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences. Seven months later, the School moved into the $67M, 247,000 sq. ft. NWC building, challenged to become the best atmospheric science program in the country to match having the nation's finest facility. The NWC concept was implemented in partnership with NOAA, and the School's co-location with NOAA has led to a new era of enhanced cooperation. For example, motivated by NSSL's Phased Array Radar project, the successful NSF ERC proposal for CASA (Collaborative, Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere), and thriving mobile radar efforts, President Boren requested and approved a strategic plan for a Radar Initiative (RI), which led to 10 new faculty hires in SoM, ECE, CS and CEES. Robert Palmer was recruited to lead this effort, and he became the inaugural director of the Atmospheric Radar Research Center. Other RI hires in Meteorology included Phillip Chilson, Guifu Zhang, and Xuguang Wang. The ARRC grew to more than 30 graduate students and postdocs by the end of the decade, built a Radar Innovations Laboratory and an Electromagnetics Microphysical Laboratory, and purchased a powerful C-band radar - the Polarimetric Radar for Innovations in Meteorology and Engineering (OU-PRIME) - the SoM's first ground-based radar.
The number of endowed chairs and professorships grew remarkably. The Williams Chair enabled the School to hire David Karoly, a leading climate scientist. The Mark and Kandi McCasland Chair was established for the director of the School with Fred Carr as the initial holder of the chair. The Weathernews Chair was first held by Joe Friday, followed by Kelvin Droegemeier, followed by Ming Xue, who replaced Droegemeier as director of CAPS. Alan Shapiro was appointed to the American Airlines Professorship. The Craighead Professorship, awarded to Palmer, has been upgraded to a Chair. Finally, the School received two endowed positions from the Chesapeake Corporation in 2009, with Dean Berrien Moore appointed as the first Chesapeake Chair, and the Chesapeake Professorship to be filled at a later date. Lance Leslie was appointed as the SoM's third Lowry Chair. Other new faculty hires during the decade were Mike Biggerstaff, Mark Morrissey, and Petra Klein, while Joe Friday and Kevin Kloesel served in term faculty positions. During 2010, Berrien Moore and Dave Parsons were recruited to replace John Snow as Dean, and Fred Carr as Director, respectively. Departures included Karoly, who returned to Australia; Ken Crawford, who retired to take a senior administrative position in the Korea Meteorological Administration; and Droegemeier, who became OU's Vice-President for Research. At the end of the decade, the School had 23 regular faculty (3 female), 35 adjunct faculty, 110 graduate students and nearly 300 undergraduates.
The School's faculty played a major role in the development of the new OU University Research Campus in the old "South Base" area. OU Vice Presidents Nick Hathaway and Lee Williams worked with Dean Snow and leaders of the School to encourage more partnerships with the private sector. Weathernews, Inc. established its North American headquarters on the URC in 2005, and WDT was established in 2000 as a spin off from NSSL and CAPS, and moved to the URC in 2007. There are now 13 companies on the URC, employing 350 people. The research units associated with the School thrived during this decade. CAPS became a successful "graduated" STC and is leading national storm-scale NWP efforts. The Oklahoma Climatological Survey won the prestigious Innovations in American Government award presented by the Ford Foundation and Harvard University. CIMMS nearly doubled in size, and partners with NSSL in National Radar Testbed and Hazardous Weather Testbed initiatives. A new organization, the Sasaki Institute, - led first by Friday and then Droegemeier - grew out of efforts to connect the talent residing in the NWC to the private sector. Although no longer in existence, it spawned OU's Commercial Interests and Venture Opportunities and Corporate Engagement Offices, as well as the Office of Weather Programs and Projects in the NWC.
The School advanced academically as well, creating several new minors and a unique weather radar and instrumentation curriculum, and instituting scholarship, award, tutoring, mentoring, and campus weather service (Oklahoma Weather Lab) programs. Student exchange programs were created with the University of Reading in England, the University of Hamburg in Germany and Monash University in Australia; about 33 SoM students have spent a semester abroad, with over 85 students from those institutions coming to SoM. Strong relationships were also established with institutions in China and Japan, leading to a Sino-American symposium at Norman in 2008 and an OU-Kyoto University meeting on radar meteorology at Kyoto in 2009.
Accolades galore accrued to SoM faculty and students. Regents Professor Kelvin Droegemeier was appointed by President George W. Bush to the National Science Board as the first Oklahoman to ever serve on the board. Drs. Lamb, Bluestein and Leslie joined Sasaki and Lilly as George Lynn Cross Research Professors, while Snow was appointed a Regents Professor. Drs. Sasaki and Snow were inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame. Many other faculty received OU and AMS awards, and served on important committees for the National Academy of Sciences, NCAR, NSF, NOAA, and NASA . SoM graduate students have received more AMS Fellowships, and undergraduates have received more Hollings Scholarships than any other university in the country.
As the decade ends, and we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we look forward to even greater achievements under the new leadership of Berrien Moore and Dave Parsons.
|Name||Additional Guests||Friday Dinner||Saturday Dinner|
|Friday, Elbert (Joe)||0||Yes||No|
|Issa Lele, Mouhamadou||1||No||No|
|Ritchie, Adrian (Buddy)||1||Yes||Yes|
|Robinson Cook, Ashton||0||Yes||No|
|Rose, R. Lynn||1||Yes||Yes|
|Sasaki, Yoshi K.||1||Yes||Yes|
OU Meteorology is central to my entire professional life. During a winter quarter AFROTC course on weather -actually weather ground school for future pilots - the instructor said "Hey, you like this stuff. Would you want to be a forecaster? It's a good deal." By April I knew I would be going to OU in August 1961. As a "butter-bar" Lieutenant I was a part of a class of 10 AFIT students and in for a life-changing experience.
AFIT Basic Meteorology Program 1961-62
A three week, 8 hours a day math and physics review under Rex Inman preceded opening of classes. It was one of the most practical courses I have ever taken. Classes began with Atmospheric Geophysics and Atmospheric Thermodynamics from Dr Saucier; Dynamical Meteorology from Rex; Meteorological Instrumentation from Stan Barnes and one more course I do not remember were in the fall. In the spring Joe Friday and I were recruited for Rex's Numerical Weather Prediction (Phillip Thompson's thin book) course so there would be enough warm bodies to make it official. Joe McFarland sat in on it. What a blast! Although Rex was often roundly criticized for being tough on students, I found him a stern and honest teacher. Stuck on a homework problem, I went in to see him. Taking it from the top, I explained each step until Rex said "What the hell did you do that for?" I had a poor explanation and left with a keen awareness of the challenge, but not the solution. Principles of Meteorological Analysis became required nightly reading and study. Weather map analysis was de jour. Dr. Saucier taught the advanced dynamics course from Haltimer & Martin. Turbulence was not his forte', but he led us through Reynolds averaging and Elsasser radiation diagrams. . Summer brought daily map analysis and Rex's cloud physics course.
Ted Fujita gave a presentation at NSSL using images from the TIROS satellite. He showed a time lapse evolution of cloud systems with a 30+ foot loop of 8 mm film. As student "volunteers", two of us held the satellite film loop aloft so it would not drag on the floor. The extent of convection in the Pacific, southwest of Mexico was a surprise finding. Our profession has come a long way since then.
It was not all work and no play. The Meteors signed up for the Norman Recreation Department basketball league. Bill Bayless, Donnie Maxwell, and Rex Inman were the starting front line. Bob Sheets and Mervin (Son of Mildred) Clements started at guard. What we lacked in depth, we made up for in enthusiasm. Alas, enthusiasm did not carry us far. I do not recall our record, but a good-field, no-hit shortstop might have understood our winning percentage. The sport changed to softball in spring. In a class of eleven (supplemented by a holdover from the first OU - AFIT class), it was not easy to field a skilled team. I recall neither success nor failure in softball.
Soon it was off to Bunker Hill AFB, IN to forecast for the 305 Bomb Wing - B-58 Hustlers on supersonic runs in the stratosphere. I was convinced I wanted to return to academia and become a teacher.
Graduate School 1964-70
I returned to OU in fall of 1964 as a NDEA fellow, courtesy of Dr. Saucier's efforts. I served several terms as TA for Ed Kessler's cloud physics courses and, later, one round of Jerry Stephens' version. While Dr. Kessler was away for the week, his chief scientist, Dr. Roger Lhermitte lectured on Doppler radar signal processing. LOST! It took two more days to prep the class for one quiz question based on the lectures. I later worked with Roger when he developed the first 3 mm cloud physics radar under an ARO grant. Later, I taught the class as a Lecturer although Dr Sasaki was the listed professor. About the third time I taught the course, a "light bulb moment" occurred for one student. A concept became clear and the connections with other concepts jelled. That happened for several students in that class. That was my high moment as a teacher. It never happened in later classes.
Dr. Sasaki was my major professor. He introduced us to ocean dynamics, to classical thermal convection, similarity theory, and numerical methods. He challenged us to excellence in all we tried. John Lewis and I were two of his guinea pigs on variational analysis of meteorological fields. Courses in compressible fluid flow, radiation, and boundary layer theory (Schlichting) were cross listed with Mechanical Engineering. I had no idea how well I was being prepared for the future. My dissertation model of moist convection eventually became so big I was allotted Sunday morning on the OU system. If it did not run then, wait a week. Soon, Yoshi sent Jess Charba and me to NCAR and the CDC6800 for a week - 7 AM to 10 PM. We learned to make our mistakes faster there.
John Lewis and I became best of friends - a state which endures today. As office mates we shared everything. Our families bonded. He guided me through Dr. Sasaki's courses and I led him astray in synoptic analysis. We thrived in Paul Root's (Petroleum Engineering) class in advanced numerical analysis. Dr. Saucier later called John the best self-taught synoptic meteorologist he knew.
I drove north on Flood Street toward North Campus. I planned to pick up my punch cards and printout at the OU Computing Center - an IBM 360-40 had replaced the OSAGE home built vacuum tube computer - before going to the lab. A wispy plume of smoke rose to the west of my heading. What from? I retrieved my cards and printout and drove westward towards the lab. Oh NO ! It was the smoldering ruins of the WW II wooden hospital building serving as the meteorology research lab. Portions of the building were saved, but the meteorology classrooms, offices, supplies, equipment and lab space were destroyed. I could hardly talk. I walked around in disbelief. Despondent, I went home and called John. "There is no reason to go to the office today. It's not there anymore." The multi-drawer computer card file in our office had fallen through the floor some drawers were open, some closed. Most of the cards survived (according to my memory). The cast iron radiator in our office was a molten blob on the ground. I think it was Sam Hall or Vic Whitehead who found coins from their desk drawer in the dirt, unscathed by the blaze. One copy of Stan Barnes' dissertation was available because a prof was late in returning it. As Joe Friday remarked, "Friday the 13th came on Thursday that year."
Within a week, OU Meteorology was up and running - or maybe hobbling along. The upstairs of the old engineering building was revamped while classes continued scattered across main campus. Dr. Saucier worked overtime and created wonders! Throughout such a trying time, he kept a steadfast dedication to educating his students whatever the adversity.
Life as a professional student had to close to support a growing family. I moved to North Carolina and Research Triangle Institute in 1969 when Dr Saucier started the meteorology school at NC State with Allen Weber. Over the years from our first encounter in August, 1961, I developed a great appreciation for Walter Saucier's love of teaching and care for his students. I am richly blessed that he is one of my life mentors.
The decade of the 1960s was one of new beginnings in meteorology. In 1960, NASA launched the TIROS I polar-orbiting satellite, the first satellite specifically designed for observations of clouds. Its two television cameras gave the first detailed looks of the infinite variety of cloud patterns and their temporal changes. Also in the Fall of 1960, my wife and I moved from Bryan, TX, to Norman, OK, where I was accepting a position at the University of Oklahoma as a Special Instructor in Engineering Physics. Preceding me in this move was Dr. Walter Saucier, and soon thereafter, Dr. Yoshi Sasaki. Thus began instruction and research in meteorology at OU. As I recall, the class of Air Force sponsored students enrolled during the following Spring semester was not more than six, and perhaps fewer than that. There were no civilian students enrolled. I was given the task of developing course materials and instructing them in an instruments and observations course which I had taught briefly at Texas A&M University (then Texas A&M College: TAMC). Dr. Saucier taught all the other first semester meteorology courses, and Dr. Sasaki began seeking grants and contracts for research.
My Path to OU
How did it happen that a Tulsa high school student, who graduated in 1949 without taking a traditional physics or chemistry course to satisfy the science course requirement,wound up teaching at the University of Oklahoma? At the time, Central High offered a course in aeronautics that also satisfied the science requirement. The teacher was Mr. John Venable who later became Tulsa superintendent of schools. When the class got to the weather chapter in the text, Mr. Venable arranged to take us on a field trip to Spartan School of Aeronautics located at the Tulsa Municipal Airport. My interest in aviation stemmed from the WWII years when I built several models patterned after the fighters and bombers of that era. During my senior year I had also taken flying lessons, although not enough to qualify for a license. So after high school, I enrolled in the Fall at Spartan in their 12-month meteorology curriculum which would qualify me for a beginning forecaster position with the Weather Bureau (National Weather Service (NWS) now). My parents somehow found the funds to pay the tuition. In my teens, Oklahoma's sometimes frightening thunderstorms and blizzards had made an impression on me. So I thought, if I am not cut out to be a pilot, then maybe I can become a weather forecaster and help pilots stay out of trouble. Near the end of the weather course at Spartan, the Korean War broke out and some of my classmates already had received their draft notices. After finishing the course in September, I enlisted in the Navy. Having a high school diploma entitled me to select the training school I wanted to attend, and, surprise, I chose to go to Aerographer's Mate School. After serving at Hawaii's Fleet Weather Central and on Midway Island as a radiosonde operator, my four-year enlistment drew to an end as the G. I. Bill passed for veterans of the that war. I saw my way to make it to college and enrolled at Oklahoma A & M College (now OSU) with an undeclared major in Arts and Sciences. My time in the Navy as a weather observer and radiosonde section leader had given me a stronger appreciation for the value of a college education. At OAMC, I met those intimidating courses that I had avoided in high school - physics and calculus - as well as courses in writing and chemistry. Now serious about learning, I made the Dean's Honor Roll twice and the President's Honor Roll once during my freshman and sophomore years. My reason for choosing Oklahoma A&M, frankly, was low resident tuition costs and the fact that they offered 39 hours of meteorology and climatology courses. I was hoping that by the time I was a junior, they would offer the necessary 40 hours to get a BS degree as a Meteorology major. But as my sophomore year ended in Spring 1956, no such degree was available. So I looked around for another college, thinking that with a BS and perhaps a MS, I could at least a become research assistant at some institution studying weather. (Yes, my naivety was showing).
Texas A & M College (1956 to 1960)
As an undergraduate transfer student at TAMC in Fall 1956, I was employed along with fellow student Samuel J. Hall to attend to the Department of Oceanography and Meteorology weather instruments and assist in Air Force-sponsored research into the jet stream data obtained by B-29 aircraft. Sam and I also plotted on maps the constant altitude trajectories of large balloons released by General Mills in Minnesota. All of this research was to determine the evolution and structures of jet stream winds and whether radiosonde wind observations could be used to predict trajectories. The balloon research was under the direction of Prof. Guy A. Franceschini, who also was helping Dr. Yoshikazu Sasaki and his family get settled. They had only recently immigrated from Japan. One of my extracurricular jobs at the time was to teach Dr. Sasaki how to drive a 1949 Chrysler fluid-drive automobile in order to obtain his Texas driver's license. It took a while for Yoshi to get the hang of the vehicle (please forgive me, Yoshi), and I wasn't a lot of help in the mechanics of it, since all I had ever driven were conventional stick-shift transmissions. Communication was a bit of a problem also, since being a new immigrant, Yoshi's English wasn't very good yet, although it was infinitely better than my Japanese. But after several weeks, Yoshi took and passed the driver test, though not on the first try. I was glad when I could return to my more normal duties at the department. During the Fall semester of 1957, potential disaster fell upon the department. The Russians launched Sputnik in October and shortly after that all funding from the Federal government was put on hold. Grants and contracts critical to the support of employed students in Meteorology were suspended. But Walter Saucier was not one to let hard times destroy what he had worked hard to achieve. Somehow, he convinced the college administration, or perhaps it was the alumni association, to come forward with enough funding to support the academic staff and working students until the crisis was resolved. For that, the entire group of student assistants and graduate candidates can be grateful, civilian as well as military.
The fall semester of 1958 was my last at TAMC. My Master's Degree was awarded in January of 1959. I had been at TAMC a little over two years since my sophomore year at OAMC, but I had managed to achieve my goal by loading up on credit hours each term and by taking three graduate-level courses during my last semester as an undergraduate. Not having a job prospect in mind, I continued teaching a beginning course in meteorological observations and working on research projects for various professors. Also during this period, I wrote some technical papers that perhaps still exist in the TAMU or Department library holdings. It was about this time that I became interested in objective numerical analysis of meteorological data using a suggestions of Dr. Sasaki's. Basically, it involved interpolation of discrete observations (several tens or a few hundreds of miles apart) to the points of an arbitrary grid (mesh) of evenly-spaced points from which diagnostic derivative calculations could be obtained. Dr. Sasaki had proposed a weight function based on the concept of diminishing influence of an observation with increasing distance from a station. However, I did not like his form of the weighting function. It gave zero value to the observation at the point where the data were observed. I recast the same function in a form that seemed to me to be more realistic, giving the observation a weight of one at the point where it was observed. I used the derived weight function to analyze upper air data throughout the troposphere for a case of squall line thunderstorms in western Oklahoma and Texas. To my knowledge, it was the first study of such a weather system using numerical analysis techniques. There had been previous use of numerical analysis schemes for large-scale weather systems, but none on the scale of squall lines. The study became a TAMC Technical Report but was never formally published. There were problems with the analysis between stations that had not reported any data. This problem, and a similar one caused by the irregular spacing of observation stations, haunted me until near the end of my career when my colleagues and I in Boulder worked out a system for obtaining reasonable analysis by using the then developed NWS numerical prediction model data to make an initial guess as to what any missing observation should have been.
University of Oklahoma (1960-1967)
During the following summer, Dr. Saucier took a group of MS graduates and Dr. Sasaki to Norman to interview with the professors and administrators at OU who were in favor of starting a meteorology program. After the usual "wining and dining" at the Petroleum Club in Oklahoma City, I was in a car returning to OU with Prof. Chedomir Sliepcevich who asked me what I wanted to do if I came to OU. My answer of "research weather systems" brought the response from Dr. Sliepcevich "If you come to OU, you either have a Ph. D. or you are working on one". That remark set my course for the next seven years. After my wife and I moved to Norman, I worked full-time teaching and doing research under grants obtained by Dr. Sasaki, while also taking one course per semester (including summers) until I had sufficient hours to satisfy the degree requirements. Yoshi had been successful in acquiring a grant to study the new TIROS I photographs. I became interested in the apparent pattern of clouds that indicated some type of Bénard cellular convection over the northern Pacific Ocean just off of the California and Baja coasts. With enough math and thermodynamic courses behind me, I undertook to develop a simple two dimensional numerical model of the environmental processes behind their formation. This research became my dissertation1, which I completed and distributed to my committee in early April, 1967. Unfortunately, my personal copy of the dissertation has been either misplaced or lost in the many moves that have accompanied me on my journey to the present. I don't remember even the title of it. It was submitted to JAS, but never published. One semester, I have forgotten the year, Rex Inman returned to Florida State University [Texas A & M College] to complete his doctoral degree. He, Sam Hall and Vic Whitehead had taken much of the teaching load from Walt's shoulders. Rex's course in dynamics fell to me to teach while he was gone from OU. Although I had passed that course with an A when at TAMC, and had Rex's lecture notes, I had never taught the course. I quickly found out that the way to really understand the material of a course was to teach it! All of us graduate students worked hard to keep pace with Dr. Saucier. His goal was to develop a topnotch degree program in meteorology. Although the guise of putting the meteorology program within the Engineering Physics program was critical to the success of Saucier's first years at OU, it also created an "identity crisis" that remained to be overcome. The goal to call the program "meteorology" had been opposed by the head of the Geography Department. So it was somewhat of a miracle that the word spread that OU had a degree program in meteorology. Of course, the support of the Air Force Institute of Technology kept the program alive during those first years, until civilian students began enrolling. Interestingly, the success of Prof. Saucier's effort was rewarded in the 1980s with the incorporation of Meteorology within the College of Geosciences along side Geography and Geology and Geophysics. During this period, I found time to write a paper on what I had found out so far about using the exponential spatial weight function developed when I was at TAMC. An iterative scheme was developed to nudge the analysis toward the observations. That paper was accepted for publication in 1964 and became the basis of the "Barnes" analysis scheme, although there were still problem areas to be addressed. In late April of 1967, a squall line moved through the north campus area where our research offices and laboratory classrooms were locate at the OURI Atmospheric Research Laboratory. A lightning strike apparently set fire to that building sometime during the night and by dawn the entire wooden structure was engulfed in flames. There was nothing to do but sift through the ashes. Everyone lost years of work, papers and journals. The hardest thing for me to lose was my series of grade books for the classes I taught. They were my link to the past seven years and to the students I had taught. Many names and faces of my memory disappeared in the flames. But I was otherwise very fortunate. In May I defended my dissertation with sufficient aplomb to be awarded the degree. I was told at the time that it wasn't so much the content of the dissertation that met with the committee's approval, but the potential they saw in my past endeavors which included the journal publication in 1964 of the so-called "Barnes" numerical analysis technique for spatially arrayed data.
National Severe Storms Laboratory (1967 to 1974)
I was also fortunate in having as one of my committee members Dr. Edwin Kessler, the newly appointed director of the National Severe Storms Laboratory which happened to be located also on the north campus across the street from our now-destroyed offices. After my defense, he suggested I should apply for a Civil Service job with the Laboratory. I later learned that the office in Washington that sponsored our meteorological satellite research was also interested in my application for employment. But my experience in surface and upper air in-situ observations along with the skills I had developed in numerical analysis of spatial data led me to accept the position at NSSL running their radiosonde program during the springtime field studies. It wasn't long before I was made project leader of the Storm Morphology and Dynamics Project under the guidance of Dr. Gilbert Kinzer, a renowned Canadian cloud physics researcher then at NSSL. In my group were two established scientists who had been with the Laboratory when it was known as the National Severe Storms Project under the Weather Bureau. That project was headquartered in Kansas City, but operated it's springtime studies out of Will Rogers Airport. Those two researchers were Leslie Dale Sanders and Neil B. Ward. Sanders was involved in boundary layer studies using the recorded data from the NSSL-instrumented WKY television tower north of Oklahoma City. Neil Ward was the first "tornado chaser" employed by the Laboratory. He had obtained permission to ride along in a Oklahoma Highway Patrol car whenever severe thunderstorms were anticipated. Many Patrol Officers were tasked to keep an eye on thunderstorms as part of the state's warning system. Of course, this was before Doppler weather radars came into use. One day while I was in my office on the second floor of the old Navy barracks building which housed NSSL, a thunderstorm approached from the west and was producing a considerable amount of cloud-to-ground lightning. One stroke hit very close by, shaking the building. A colleague and I walked through the halls to see if the building had been struck. Not finding anything out of ordinary, I returned to my work in my office. But soon I smelled a whiff of smoke. Immediately the word was passed through the building and the fire department called. Then we began to search for the source. Neil had been away from the office that day, and when we entered his office (next to mine), the smoke became thicker. We found that maps stuck behind a metal filing cabinet and resting on an electric cord from a wall outlet were smoldering. Fire extinguishers were quickly brought to the scene and the fire put out. We were lucky that the fire occurred during working hours and near an occupied office, else we might have had a repeat of the Atmospheric Research Laboratory disaster. It wasn't too long after that that Dr. Kessler convinced higher authority to fund a new building for NSSL that was not as susceptible to fire. My association with OU didn't end with my joining NSSL. Over the years following 1967, I served on several Master's committees for the SOM as an Adjunct Professor. But except for the junior employees and grantees working at NSSL, my teaching duties were over. During the time I was at OU and NSSL, the National Science Foundation was searching about the country for the location of a national center for atmospheric research. I was aware that Boulder, Colorado, was a prime consideration, it being the location of several government laboratories, and the University of Colorado with its strengths in upper atmospheric science. The University of Illinois Champaign was another consideration with its strengths in computer sciences. OU also put in a bid for the site with its growing meteorology school, atmospheric research, and collaborations with NSSL. But alas, OU didn't not have a state-of-art super computer facility. The Electrical Engineering Department had convinced the administration that it could build a super computer comparable to the best of that day. The sad fact was that it did build a computer, but not a state-of-the art one. And neither did NSSL have much computer power. Kathrine Gray, another Weather Bureau transfer to NSSL, had pulled strings to obtain an old IBM machine called "CADET". The joke, Kathrine told us, was that the machine "Can't Add; Doesn't Even Try". Almost all of our major computational tasks had to be farmed out to places like Conoco Oil in Ponca City, or to NASA machines at the Johnson Space Center near Houston. Many trips were made to those places by auto with our decks of punched cards, our magnetic tape reels, and ice chests full of sandwiches, etc. which would get us through a night or weekend of processing data during those facility's off-hours.
Time to move on (1974 to 1979)
After seven years of designing and monitoring the operation of NSSL's mesonetwork arrays of surface and upper air sounding sites, analyzing those data and interpreting WSR-57 radar data, it was time to move on. Doppler radar was being developed and others had taken the lead in its analysis. Surface instrumentation was switching from WWII technology with analog recordings to transducers and digital recording, neither of which I knew much about. Although I had an interest in numerical simulation models, I now was too far behind in developing the knowledge necessary to undertake that approach to severe thunderstorm research in a meaningful way (1). So when I was given the opportunity in 1974 to transfer to the Environmental Research Laboratories' headquarters in Boulder, I took it. There, I assisted Dr. Doug Lilly, then of NCAR, in developing a plan for a larger field program to ascertain what we could about the influence larger-than-thunderstorm scale dynamics and physical processes might have on the development of severe convective systems. It became the Severe Environmental Storms and Mesoscale Experiment (Project SESAME). In 1979, I returned to NSSL for the duration of that field project, and served with Dr. Ron Alberty as co-project director. As soon as it was practical, those data were made available to the general scientific community for interested persons to research. At NSSL, Dr. Kessler's policy was to make the spring field project data available after a year's time, giving NSSL researchers a head start on publishable results. Because NSSL researchers had the responsibility of quality controlling the data sets before releasing them to the community, I was thankful for this policy.
The 1980s and 1990s
The years 1949 to 1979 accomplished nearly 30 years of interest and study into the types of thunderstorm systems that sometimes frightened me as a youth. Along the way, I was helped, guided, and allowed freedom to explore by many persons. The influence of Walt Saucier, Yoshi Sasaki, my instructors, and my many colleagues and fellow students have been paramount in accomplishing what I consider to be a successful journey into the realm of weather science. I am not satisfied with the status of the "Barnes" analysis scheme. After addressing many problems of successive correction schemes with Dr. Fernando Caracena and Dr. Chuck Doswell in Boulder (at the Forecast Systems Laboratory), the scheme's ultimate potential has not made it into the formal literature (2). Other analysis schemes, such as statistical optimal interpolation and equivalent variational methods, have been developed to satisfy the needs of numerical models in determining initial states of the atmosphere. According to one researcher (Bratseth (3), 1986, Tellus, vol. 38A, 439-447), the method developed by Caracena can be made equivalent to statistical optimal interpolation methods. But time is on the side of those who forge ahead quickly. And so again, it was time to move on to other interests. In my last years with FSL, I turned my attention to the more fundamental question of how geostrophic jet stream dynamics might be used to aid forecasters in anticipating severe weather, including thunderstorms. For this, I developed a computer diagnostic scheme based on Q-vector analysis, some version of which has since been incorporated into National Weather Service graphical workstations.
The 21st Century
For many years during the beginning of my career, meteorological research results were very slow to transfer to the operational arena. Now, with educators and researchers such as those at SOM/OU and the National Weather Building, co-housing as it does the many facets of weather observation, recording, research and forecasting, progress in better understanding the severe weather of the midcontinent may more easily accelerate. Those visionaries who supported and followed Walter Saucier's efforts to establish a meteorology program at OU and those in the agencies and offices now engaged are to be commended and applauded in this the 50th year celebration of that beginning.
(1) As a doctoral candidate, writing a research prospectus was a requirement. My prospectus concerned a study of convective storms based on representative environmental temperature and moisture sounding profiles described by analytical mathematical functions. At the beginning of my employment at NSSL, Dr. Kessler asked me what I thought I would like to do. I suggested the convection research I had outlined in my prospectus. His answer to that was "I do the cloud modeling at NSSL".
(2) It was rejected outright by an AMS journal, resubmitted to Meteorological Applications in England, and recommended for rejection by two reviewers as not appropriate for that journal.
(3) Abstract: A theoretical investigation of the successive correction method for objective analysis of meteorological data is presented, and an explicit formula for the iteration limit is offered. By means of this result, it is possible to formulate the method so that this limit conforms with statistical optimal interpolation. Simple experiments indicate that desirable properties of statistical interpolations are easily transferred to the successive correction approach. This includes the use of observation error statistics and multivariate analysis.
Ohio State University (1950-1954)
I got my introduction to meteorology in a course of that name taught by Professor Nelson Dingle in the Ohio State University while I got a Bachelor of Science in Education. That got me interested in meteorology.
University of Michigan (1956-1969) After I got my B.S. degree, I went to sea for required active duty as a new ensign. I later learned that Nelson Dingle had moved to the University of Michigan (UM) where E. Wendell Hewson was forming a new meteorology group. When I got out of the Navy, I applied to the UM Graduate College and was accepted (a group just starting can't be too picky). Studying under Nelson Dingle, Wendell Hewson, Gerry Gill and Don Portman and working on their research projects, I received my Master of Science (Meteorology). My interests were in instrumentation and data loggers. Professor Gill introduced me to meteorology instrumentation in two courses. At that time, the data loggers did not usually include a processor, micro or otherwise. But that is what I wanted to work on. I remained with the meteorology program/department as an Assoc. Res. Engr. (I'm not sure when the program formally became a department). I also continued my studies in the UM College of Engineering and received a Master of Science in Engineering (Instrumentation).
University of Oklahoma (1969-1973)
I moved our family to Norman, finally committed to getting a Ph.D. in Meteorology. The head of the department was Amos Eddy and other members of the faculty were: Claude Duchon, Yoshikazu Sasaki, and Rex Inman (I apologize to others I left out). During a three-day trip Boulder, I encountered freezing rain, one of their famous windstorms, and on the last day 10 inches of snow. What interesting weather!
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) (1973-1985)
My next job was in the NCAR, FOF (Field Observing Facility). My first task was to build a portable automated mesonet (PAM). I bought my first microprocessor, the Intel 8008 but I quickly found that it was not ideal for our task. But Intel soon developed and marketed the 8080 and I found that the instruction set was all that I had hoped for and my team built PAM using it. PAM used point-to-point radio to send 1-minute data to a field base station where it was recorded and could be viewed in real time.
My next task for our team was to build PAM II using the GOES satellite to relay data from remote stations to central base in Boulder. Then the base could distribute data to users via the Internet. The remotes could be almost anywhere in N. or S. America, as long as the remote stations could 'see' the satellite.
University of Oklahoma (1985-1997)
Back to University of Oklahoma teaching and started a long process (for me) of writing a book. Along with a lot of good people, worked on the Oklahoma Mesonet.
Finally published Meteorology Measurements Systems with Scott Richardson, Oxford University Press, 2001.
As a cocky teen on a small subsistence farm near Cistern in south central Texas, my passion was weather (and baseball)--would have starved to death on the farm. I owed much of my weather inspiration to Ken Jehn (deceased), whose daily 6 pm TV weather show from Austin, Texas I religiously watched. I idolized this great teacher; he taught me dewpoint temperature when I was just a kid! At the time I didn't know he headed the University of Texas (UT) meteorology (met) program. With the approach of high school graduation in 1962, I discovered I could live in Austin with my sister, which would give me the opportunity to attend UT (with $300 in the bank and $50 per semester UT tuition, money was not a problem!). After enrolling, though barely escaping the academic trenches of the first semester at UT, I decided I could handle college.
When I began enrolling in undergraduate met courses during my junior year at UT, the small met department was expanding. Joining faculty residents Ken Jehn, Don Harrigan, and Claude Duchon, were new arrivals Amos Eddy (deceased), Jerry Stephens, and Bernard Haurwitz. Among the met grad students were Ron McPherson (whose subsequent career rose to the level of NWS Director), Mel Mclaughlin, and Ken Crawford. Also, if I'm not mistaken, one of my undergraduate course classmates was Jeff Kimpel [later University of Oklahoma (OU) School of Meteorology Chairman and NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) Director], who was then in the Air Force Basic Weather Program. By my senior year many of the faculty and students (me included) were actively involved in the multi-year field study of the sea breeze along the Texas upper Gulf Coast. The stress associated with taking round-the-clock surface and pibal measurements for six mid-summer weeks in the mosquito and snake infested coastal marshes yielded many juicy stories!
In my senior year (1965-66) at UT, with no employment opportunities and a determination to avoid the Vietman War, the obvious path was grad school. Since I was interested in severe storms and I heard OU had a budding met program, I sent Prof. Walt Saucier (deceased, then OU met department chairman) my UT academic transcript. In response to his invitation to visit, I will never forget crossing the Red River into Oklahoma on a hot August day in 1966. The road changed from the newly-completed I35 in Texas to narrow "red Indian trails" in south Oklahoma. Lost in the Ozark Mountains, a recurring thought was, "don't get scalped; head back to civilization (Texas)!"
Ultimately, I enrolled in the OU masters program during the fall of 1966. There to welcome me, in addition to Profs. Walt Saucier and Yoshi Sasaki, were PhD grad students Stan Barnes, Rex Inman (deceased), John Lewis, Walter Bach, and John McCarthy (probably still in masters program). Others just arriving for grad school were Bill Parton and Mitch (Bob Mitchell) and several Air Force officers [including Joe Friday (who eventually became NWS Director), Henry Baddley, Larry French, and Frank Wencel]. Somewhat later, grad students Chuck Doswell, Joe Goldman (Univ. of Houston), Joe Golden, and David Pitts (correct name?; NASA) came on board. The extra cash from a NASA fellowship (suggested by David) bought me a ton of extra-curricular trouble!
The OU met department furnished offices for the faculty and grad students in an old wooden military barracks building on the OU north campus, where an attractive aspect was that NSSL was just across the street and we could sneak in to view severe storm echoes on the WSR-57 radar screens. Well, this cozy arrangement came to an abrupt end when one nice spring morning in 1967 we woke up to hear our north campus building was a pile of ashes. Us new grad students were the "lucky ones", since we had not amassed (and lost) large volumes of research material as did the faculty and senior grad students.
The OU met faculty expanded rapidly during the late 1960s. Interestingly, two of my teachers at UT (Amos Eddy and Claude Duchon) plus Jerry Stephens (also from UT) "followed me" to OU! Prof. Yoshi Sasaki was my graduate program advisor. I completed the masters program in 1967, where my thesis was on the analysis of NSSL surface meso-network pressure and wind fields for cases of "left- and right-moving" severe local storms. My PhD dissertation, completed in January 1972, was on the analysis and physical modeling of severe storm gust fronts, where the database was from the NSSL surface meso-network and instrumented WKY TV tower.
Prof. Sasaki mandated that his PhD students teach a met course. I taught undergrad atmospheric physics, and among my students were Jack Hayes (present NWS Director), and (if my memory is correct) Don Burgess (formerly of NSSL), and Steve Wiess (presently NWS National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Storm Prediction Center Science and Operations Officer).
One of my goals while in Oklahoma was to experience a tornado. While the OU/NSSL Severe Storm Chase Program was in its infancy during my residence in Norman, I chased tornadic storms in my yellow Mustang. Despite my best efforts to get a close view of a tornado, the effort was unsuccessful during my 5.5 year stay, which indicates the rarity of strong tornadoes even in "tornado alley". In fact, I've experienced worse convective storms in Cistern, Texas (Hurricane Carla and a devastating hailstorm) and in Silver Spring, Maryland (about a half-dozen events including remnants of Hurricane Agnes, Hurricane Isabelle, and several thunderstorm micro-bursts with hurricane force wind gusts in three cases).
Looking back, my OU grad school experience has left me with indelible memories. As a young single male, a major challenge was striking a healthy balance between OU academics and the robust social/sports scene--my social and sports hobbies undoubtedly extended my grad school tenure! (Oh yes, another challenge was satisfying the PhD foreign language proficiency requirement.) I feel very fortunate to have received high quality academic training at both UT and OU. During grad school, Prof. Sasaki's personal mentoring and scientific guidance has had a positive impact throughout my professional career.
Regents Professor of Meteorology (2000-2009)
Emeritus Regents Professor of Meteorology (2009-present)
Roots of the Oklahoma Mesonet as told through the eyes of Ken Crawford It was the spring of 1968 and a young Ken Crawford was roaming the rolling terrain of central and southwest Oklahoma - home of the all-manual NSSL Mesonetwork. At the time, Dr. Crawford was the lead maintenance technician to help service the NSSL network of surface observing systems. Each week he had to change paper records of the continuous observations of barometric pressure, temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed/direction and fill each of the wells with ink. He also reset non-precision clocks that kept the paper moving, the observations reasonably time-synched, and the ink pins tracing out images of observations on preprinted strip charts. Outside enduring spring-season winds of Oklahoma, the lengthy (literally) paper rolls could be ripped to make the analog records even harder to digitize. To this day, Dr. Crawford says he has crystal clear images in his mind of these crude records.
Two other important events occurred 15-20 years later that led to the first installations of the Oklahoma Mesonet. The first was the disastrous flood in Tulsa that caused $180 million in damages and took the lives of 14 individuals. That event led to the creation of the Tulsa flood warning system, which in turn, caused many emergency managers to seek a replication of the Tulsa system in their area of responsibility. The final ingredient was the wisdom and foresight of Governor Henry Bellmon who used $2 million in discretionary dollars to launch the partnership between Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma. Thus, the Oklahoma Mesonet began, a network now considered the "gold standard" among statewide observing networks.
Walt Saucier's approach was not too dissimilar from the content of his books, but in the classroom, he was just fascinating. He always used colored chalk and would say things like we'll "dot the yellow and the green to give the blue". The only way to keep up was to bring colored pencils to take notes! He referred to integration as "multiplying through by squidgely" (the integral sign). I remember him using the "one over rho d-rho d-T, parlez vouz" song when talking about the mass continuity equation - I can hear it in my head even now. Sadly, I only had him for one course - graduate synoptics. His exams weren't what he gave to the undergrads (which apparently included a lot of T-F questions). They were challenging problems and took every minute of the time allotted. They usually involved applying what we had been taught to solve various problems we'd never seen before.
Yoshi Sasaki was my advisor and I've always felt that it was a stroke of good fortune for me. He always knew just what I needed as a grad student, even when I didn't know, and believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. His lectures were responsible for helping me to understand as much as possible about how the atmosphere really worked, and his guidance taught me how to be a scientist.
Department Chair (1987-1991)
Emeritus Professor (2001-present)
I came to the School of Meteorology as an assistant professor in August 1969. At that time it was called "Department" of Meteorology, but eventually that changed to "School" because it was located in the College of Engineering, which had only "Schools." I don't recall a formal date for the name change, but there may have been one.
My arrival coincided with that of other new faculty: Fred Brock, Frank Hall, Don Holyoke, and Rex Inman, although Rex may have been on board one year earlier. We were part of a major regime change that began in summer 1968 when Amos Eddy left UT and became chair of the Department. By summer 1969 Walt Saucier and his group had all left, except for Yoshi Sasaki.
During the first year of my tenure, the department seemed to function about the same as previous years. By the second year it became clear that we wanted to change from a department heavily populated by military students through the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) and Air Force Basic Meteorology Program (BMP) to one populated by civilians. One of the first steps in this direction was to create an introductory course in meteorology to attract civilian students. This was my baby, so to speak, and I taught the first few classes of Metr. 1003. After a couple years, I added a lab and it became Metr. 1004. It is now Metr. 1014 and is designed for non-majors. As more civilian students entered the undergraduate and graduate programs, the number of military students declined and by about 1980 we were essentially a department of civilian students.
In the first year that Amos was chairman, he developed a grand vision for the department. It was a 50-page document called "A Plan for the Development of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma" and was dated December 1968 (I have a copy). The department was to comprise seven different areas: Atmospheric Dynamics and Severe Storms Group; Experimental Design; Applied Ecology; Urban Meteorology; Hydrometeorology; Weather Modification; and Special Studies (including sociometeorology, agrometeorology, marine meteorology, rural meteorology, fire meteorology, and aviation meteorology). The hiring of faculty in the various areas was outlined along with funding sources for salaries and infrastructure.
Where did Amos develop his grand vision? I believe it started in earnest during his five-years at UT. As his PhD student, I recall his wide-ranging interests and his desire to do things differently. He felt that meteorology already had a strong impact on sociology, industry, and agriculture and the moment was right to understand and promote these connections. In addition, and perhaps the most important consideration, it is stated in the document that he was invited by President Herb Hollomon and encouraged by Engineering Dean Gene Norby and the deans of the Graduate School and School of Health to provide an outline for the future of meteorology at OU. Unfortunately for Amos, both President Hollomon and Dean Norby resigned in 1970, so his two major sources of support were gone. Even without this loss, it seems to me that the grand plan was far overly ambitious and could not possibly happen in the few years he allotted for spin-up. I think reality soon began to take hold, which, ultimately, led to his resignation as chair in January 1971.
He was not done, though, and his new passion became climatology and climatological services. He almost single-handedly created the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, getting state approval in 1978. We need to remember that the National Weather Service canceled its support of state climatologists in 1973 - in hindsight, a good move, considering the really low level of funding. The void in OK was filled through the hard work of Amos Eddy. He remained state climatologist until 1988, when he retired. I temporarily filled the position until Ken Crawford was hired in 1989.
Amos Eddy was a visionary and often ahead of his time. The Oklahoma Climatological Survey (which emphasizes, among other areas, agrometeorology and fire management) is an outstanding success. The organization Social Science Woven into Meteorology (SSWIM) funded by NOAA and OU was started in 2008. Hydrometeorology is gaining strength at OU through faculty in the SoM and Civil Engineering and Environmental Science working together in the Atmospheric Radar Research Facility. Amos was a strong supporter of interaction with the private sector. Weather Decision Technologies (WDT) and Weathernews Inc. (WNI) are in adjacent buildings.
My time at the University of Oklahoma fell within the framework of an extremely turbulent period in our history, 1961 - 1965. With U.S. troops in Vietnam, the Hippies & Flower Children anti-war movement and their sexual revolution spread across our campus and the nation. Those raised with the standards of the 50's collided with the new tumultuous, anything goes culture. It was not a harmonious existence.
The meteorology courses were taught mostly in the Engineering building and at North Campus in a structure left over from WW II. I don't recall what classes Rex Inman taught but we were all afraid of him! John McCarthy, who went on to distinguish himself in meteorology, was one who took a lot of grief from Rex. Rex was a Democrat and John was a Republican. Enough said.
Dr. Saucier seemed to be everywhere. I always saw and felt great energy and great brilliance every time I was around him. He goes down in my life as a truly remarkable individual who really cared about his students.
Dr. Sasaki I never got to know well. I told him recently that with his accent and my hearing problem, I couldn't understand him in the 60's and I still have difficulty now. He laughed. He is a really great man.
My memories of Stan Barnes are primarily from North Campus where he taught synoptic meteorology and I'm sure other courses. Having been in the Navy Weather Service, I had already been through the curriculum of one of the courses he taught. A few years ago, Stan told me, "You were not a very good student Gary." After a good laugh, we compared notes and were both surprised to find the other had been in the Navy Weather Service. Then he said some thing along the lines of, "So that's the reason you didn't pay attention." This is a guy who makes you proud to be in this field.
Soon after arriving at OU, my wife Mary tracked down a job opening at what we all called, the Atmospheric Research Lab on north campus. Dr Saucier interviewed me hired me and then placed me with Victor Whitehead.
When I met Vic Whitehead, he was working on his Doctorate in meteorology. Since it was before most computers, my job was to assist Vic in his numbers intensive work.
Vic was a gentle, well spoken and brilliant individual. He always had a quick smile and kind words even when I messed up on my computations. He was always available to convince me that things were not as bad as I perceived them to be. When I was short on money, he always made more work time available.
His sense of humor had a great, dry twist. Vic seemed to really enjoy each time his two dogs charged me with teeth flashing. I would freeze in mid step and Vic would stand there with a sly smile on his face shaking his head.
Upon finding out I was interested in television meteorology, he quickly arranged for me to meet a local television meteorologist. Vic, however, always tried to steer me to a different field of meteorology.
During an interview in 2006 for the book Friday Night in the Big Town, Victor Whitehead gave his thoughts on me being in television back then. "At that time, the occupation had about as much respect as a used car salesman. Mandatory requirement for success in television weather seemed to be a sexy voice and nice legs. Gary had none of that."
But the one thing I had was Vic Whitehead. He was a boss, a friend, a teacher and a mentor who helped shape my life.
September 27, 2010
Walt was known for his true-false exams, which could be more difficult than most problem solving sessions. I recall one question dealing with the rising of the sun, with it reaching a certain elevation and azimuth, at 9 AM, and another set of coordinates at noon, both times in daylight savings time for Norman Oklahoma. I remember working several minutes on the three dimensional trig and concluding that the question was true. The only problem was the first part of the question, which I hurriedly read past. It started with the sun rose in the WEST!!! He had a habit of having these kinds of little clauses in his exams.
And of course there is the PhD written exam that he gave you (JML) and me, but you already know that story! The PhD question:
In early January, Green Bay, Wisconsin, reports for p = 300 mb a wind from NE at 125 knots. Place x southwestward and y southeastward through Green Bay. Reference attached map. Enter on the attached vertical cross section [Running from Fort Churchill (Manitoba) on the western shore of Hudson Bay down to Miami, FL] the following:
(i) Isotherms (preferably in red pencil), 10C interval, and label them
(ii) Tropopause (preferably blue line)
(iii) Any significant fronts, in appropriate colors or other symbolic forms
(iv) Isotachs of u=dx/dt of air; interval 20 knots or 10 m/sec; ordinary black pencil; label them
Patterns should fill the cross section On the accompanying map [surface map with surface synoptic stations] draw an appropriate surface (sea level) weather chart to suit the above conditions. Emphasize the area from 70W to 100W, 30N to 55N. Sea level pressure pattern and fronts desired, but anything else appropriately added is credit.
The die was cast for my association with O.U. in the spring of 1964 when I decided to dodge the draft by joining the U.S. Air Force. At that time the build up of forces for Viet Nam had the Air Force scrambling to expand its weather services. Like so many others in my situation, I had hopes of being a pilot, or getting involved with missiles, but I was offered a track called meteorology. Meteorology? The study of falling rocks whose forefather is Chicken Little? I rushed to a dictionary and soon discovered that I was being offered a career in weather. In my hometown, Altoona, PA, I contacted a retired Air Force general who convinced me that meteorology was one of the best deals the military had. After the maturing experience called Officers' Training School beginning in August 1964, I got my orders to report to O.U. in January for a year of weather basics.
At O.U. I found a Department of Meteorology whose focal point was unquestionably Dr. W. Saucier ("The Sauce"). My first course with him took a journey around the plane of the ecliptic and the Zodiac. Who can forget his true/false tests where a whole descriptive paragraph could be made false by a minor infraction. Later in that year, Dr. Saucier's Synoptic Lab had daily analyses of sfc., 850, 700, 500, and sometimes 300 mb charts. Though considered a drudgery at the time, this prepared us well for the weather stations in our futures.
During this first year, I met others who impacted my career. For example, the young Dr. R. Inman. He taught the Junior-level theoretical Meteorology class using the book by Hess which I also used in courses I taught. Dr. S. Barnes taught the instrumentation course. At the time, I didn't know the impact his objective analysis technique would make in the field and its use in my own dissertation.
In their zeal to fill the meteorology ranks, the Air Force enrolled some folks who didn't have the mathematics/physics background to survive the program and they perished; typically having their career track changed to supply officer. On a form used to assign postings, I entered the fact that I had five semesters of German and a sister who lived over there. This caught someone's eye and I managed to get a paid vacation in Germany as my first assignment, along with concurrent travel for a new wife. Since my sister was living in Austria, it took a couple of extra months to get my top secret clearance.
While forecasting in Germany, I found meteorology to be challenging as well as fun and began to make plans to return to O.U. as a graduate slave. I arrived there in the summer of 1969 and found that Dr. Saucier had moved to N.C. State to start a new program. At O.U. the new Department chair was Dr. A. Eddy who brought several less traditional aspects to meteorology; mainly statistical as well as interdisciplinary concepts. I joined his group while getting a masters, spending a lot of effort on simulations. Dr. Eddy's style generated lively discussions within the Department.
After finishing the masters, I decided that I enjoyed meteorology enough to continue to a PhD. Dr. Y. Sasaki's group had a large appeal to me and I joined them under the umbrella of variational analysis. Who can forget the quiet yet powerful demeanor of Dr. Sasaki whose smile of approval could boost one's confidence or whose frown of disapproval was so devastating. I quickly enrolled in a course pivotal to my career, variational calculus as applied to numerical modeling. He never gave an outright answer to a question, rather he would suggest some tools to find your own answer. Once I heard second-hand that he wondered why I had trouble with a particular aspect of a derivation. I was so worried over someone of his stature saying this that I spent the time and resources to solve the problem, and will never forget how.
During my second stay at O.U., Dr. Inman became the Department chair. About this time, he taught one of the best 5 courses I have ever taken; Numerical Meteorology, where each class member was required to program the barotropic model. At times there was a hint of terror among the students, which was enhanced by having an oral final examination. About month prior to the final, Dr. Inman asked me to write a graphical program to show force vectors (Coriolis, PGA, ...) and the resulting motion of a parcel of air released from rest. He intended to use it in an undergraduate class. I waited my turn for the oral exam as I watched sweating students enter and depart stumbling from his office. When my turn came, I stepped in and told him that the simulation was completed and would he like to see it? He gladly said yes and the rest of the afternoon was taken up with the demo while students squirmed. When done I asked him about my final and he said, "Get out of here." much to my relief.
Since leaving O.U., I have been involved in air pollution, climatology, forecasting, academics, and weather modification with attending instrumentation. The O.U. Department of Meteorology has given me an extraordinary opportunity and has been a guiding light in a career that I would never have guessed was in my future.
I really liked Dr. Saucier and there are several issues that were very important for me. First, I had to leave Purdue University since they did not teach meteorology there or any other colleges in Indiana in the early 1960s. So, I sent letters to three colleges in the US that where in other states and hoped I would hear from them (University of Wisconsin, Florida State University, and University of Oklahoma). However, the only one I got a letter from was from Dr. Saucier at the University of Oklahoma. So, I went down there to get a BS of Meteorology. When I got down there, Dr. Saucier met with me and took me over to the university student set up project that was at the old basketball building that was in the center of the university area. He even went around and showed me what to do in order to become a university student in the meteorology department. I really was pleased that he helped me do things even though I was just a starting student.
Once I was a student at OU, I remember two types of teaching that I got from Dr. Saucier that were really good and helpful. Dr. Saucier taught us concerning his "Principals of Meteorological Analysis" that he had in a book and I really enjoyed the "true-false" questions I had to answer about meteorological analysis. Also another type of student meeting that he had set up for us was to do forecasts for places in different parts of the United States. I remember that Charleston, South Carolina, was one of the stations where we made forecasts. On one occasion, they had light winds, and temperature and dew point values were relatively low. But I noticed that the winds, with the pressure gradient and all, would turn to the southeast and the air would be coming off the ocean - so I jacked the temperature up and it was right. I felt it was the first time I was really putting things together. I don't imagine that this type of teaching that involved forecasting was done at most other universities that taught meteorology. At any rate, I really enjoyed learning about his book issues and the nature of forecasting while being meteorology student with Dr. Saucier at the University of Oklahoma during the years of 1962 to 1965.
1st Stint: AFBWP Sep 1964-Aug 1965
About 45 or so enrolled, including one Captain (name of Smith, I think), one 1st Lt (Jim Miller) and a bunch of newly-minted brown bars, all but one of them male. We had morning classes in Felgar Hall and then went out to North Base for our labs. My first introduction to the discipline of meteorology consisted of Rex Inman, cigarette in hand, writing the equations of motion (as in Hess) on the blackboard. Drs. Saucier and Sasaki, along with doctoral candidates Inman, Stan Barnes, and Robert Jones taught in the classroom and Barnes and Vic Whitehead handled the labs. We were kept busy and rarely did we mix with the civilian student population unless it was over coffee and doughnuts in the Union. The crash course crammed an entire undergraduate meteorological curriculum into one year, but we were all college graduates so I guess we all survived. The class included Buddy Ritchie and Martin Yerg, both of whom eventually completed OU Ph. D. programs. A few of the rest of us came back later for Master's work. It was a busy, busy time that now exists mainly as a fog. But, they were paying us to go to school and we weren't wintering at Chanute.
2nd Stint: Spring 1971-spring 1976
This was graduate school for real (or at least as real as grad school ever is). It was, again, a predominantly male environment in a university town during turbulent times. The grad student population during the early 70s was mostly older, mostly veterans or active duty military, and mostly pretty serious about things meteorological. Rex Inman was chairman and Drs. Sasaki and Eddy generally had spheres of influence that did not often cross each other's borders. Gene Wilkins (among the nicest and wisest men I have ever known) was my major professor and, and hence my office was in the dark reaches of the fluids lab, out of sight and largely out of mind. I worked on my rotating tank experiment and heard much sage advice from Neil Ward as he worked on his tornado simulator. Evening study sessions were punctuated by map room bull-sessions that included such participants as Don Holyoke, Chuck Doswell, Gene Moore, and Al Moeller. A motley crew they were. Inman was still teaching and smoking, occasionally attempting to write on the board with his cigarette or seemingly about to take a drag on the chalk. He was an outstanding classroom teacher, though, one of the two or three best I have ever encountered. Rex also was a stern taskmaster, whose role on seminar days seemed to be visiting grad student offices to ensure maximum attendance at those events. The spectacle of listening to Jim Heimbach, Col. Hall, and Dr. Inman arguing the fine points and dangers of air pollution in a smoke-filled room always fascinated me. During this time, student-led daily weather briefings, Friday happy hours at O'Connell's, ground hog day parties, and storm-chase all became SOP in the department. I was a willing participant in three of the four, excepting only the storm chasing - not my cup of tea.
The graduate student population grew younger during my stay in the department and by the time I left it, we were even adding some women to the fold - not an unpleasant thing. The undergraduate population was exploding and times were good. A group of younger faculty members (Fein, Kimpel, and McCarthy) began to enlighten us with new perspectives. Programming was still being done on punch cards and hand-delivered to NEL in the certain knowledge that it would take 24 hours to find out about your silly error - usually in the JCL, the map room still smelled of ammonia from the Ozalid machine, and the teletypes still clattered incessantly except when some interesting weather was about. Coloring and hanging fax maps was a valid excuse for putting off studying for another few minutes. All in all, despite the fact that I wasn't as good a student as I could have been, it was a good time and it sure beat working for a living.
I arrived at OU in Jul 1963 as a special instructor beginning work on a PhD along with John Lewis who was scheduled to work on one of the research grants. We both had Masters degrees from the U of Chicago. At this time the department specialized in training Air Force weather officers under the leadership of Prof W. Saucier, a Colonel in the Air Force reserves. Mesoscale research was directed by Dr. Y. Sasaki the other faculty member. I worked on a project funded by the U. S.-Japan Science Cooperation Program to study hurricanes. I am still doing this part time after retirement from the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA'S Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. Vortex instabilities in a hurricane in environmental shear is the current project. One of my best memories at OU was interacting with Rex Inman who was teaching the dynamics course and later became the head of OU's Meteorology department after getting a PhD at Texas A and M and after a short stay at NSSL in Norman OK.
Alas, tragedy struck the OU Meteorology program about Mar 1967, when the north campus building (old wooden Navy hospital) burned down as a result of a lightening strike. Nice offices for special instructors and a few graduate students where no more. I hung out at the north campus computer center, before joining the main campus program at the old engineering building on main campus.
Texas A&M College (1955-1956)
I had the pleasure of attending classes under Walt Saucier at Texas A&M in '55-'56. I will attest to the True/False exams. Recognizing the nature of Walt's true-false tests, our group set up a pool of "before seeing the test" bets (about a $1 each in the pot), where we filled out randomly the T/F answers for the standard 50 questions. The person with the best score/grade on the bogus answer sheets compared to the real answers, won the pot. I'll have to admit I won a couple, but the kicker was, as I recall it, my grade average was better on the bogus tests than the real McCoy! Thus, you can understand my appreciation of his skewing the grading curves. He was one of a kind and most certainly a major positive highlight in my 12 months there.
I had the privilege of learning meteorology from Doc Saucier as an undergraduate student at the University of Oklahoma and again as a graduate student at North Caroline State University. He was an excellent professor and a really fun guy to be around. His true/false tests with their multiple parts to each question were legend, and he seemed to be quite amused with the sound of coins hitting the floor during his exams. I think I got more answers right for the wrong reason than I did for the right reason. He had a great sense of humor. Sometimes we would go to his office to discuss (or argue) a test question, which he would do his best to explain, but upon reaching a loggerhead on the subject, he would grin and get out a little wooden device with a crank handle on it and begin cranking. As I recall, the device had the words "BS Grinder" printed on it. This, of course, indicated that the discussion was over. I am left with my fond memories of an excellent, knowledgeable professor and a really interesting and fun person.
In 1963, Robert Simpson was Director of the National Hurricane Research Project and of the Research Flight Facility, both in Miami, Florida, and of the National Severe Storms Project (NSSP) in Kansas, City, Missouri. George Lynn Cross was President of the University of Oklahoma, and largely through Dr. Cross' direction, a meteorology program was established here with recruitment of Yoshi Sasaki, Rex Inman, and Walter Saucier as principal starting professors.
There was also in Norman the Weather Radar Laboratory, which reported to NSSP, and had been established here to facilitate observations in the field. Robert Simpson planned to move the whole of NSSP to Norman, and I accepted his invitation to become its Director in 1964 and to move here from Hartford, Connecticut, where I was with the Travelers Research Center.
Here is a facet of NSSL's work as drawn from a presentation of 26 pages, which is also available.
NSSP was renamed NSSL, and the Storm Morphology and Dynamics group therein was led by Ron Alberty when Neil Ward proposed the Storm Chase project. I resisted implementation of Niel's suggestion when first made, being unduly concerned about an image as "storm jocks" that it might project. I also doubted at first that the program would produce scientific results commensurate with the probable effort involved. But I was mistaken on both counts! The storm chase program never encumbered costs more than a few percent of NSSL's total budget, and there were great returns in both public relations and scientific areas. The program continued to grow after my retirement and became the VORTEX project, with further significant contributions to understanding of tornadoes and their parent thunderstorms.
Another of several highlights of the work of this group when it was led by Ron Alberty was discovery by Rodger Brown, Don Burgess, and Leslie Lemon of the tornadic vortex signature in radar observations of the Union City tornado of May 24, 1973. The discovery stemmed in part from the Storm Chase project, in its second year when the tornado struck.
Neil Ward also developed an apparatus for creation of model whirlwinds, and his persistent endeavors in the face of some initial resistance by the undersigned led to presentations of a range of vortex behaviors very similar to those presented by tornadoes in nature. His introduction of a honeycomb above the model vortex that removed vorticity from the outflow was especially ingenious, and his apparatus was a basis for experiments at other laboratories. Gilbert Kinzer aided the analysis of the operation of Neil's apparatus. Gilbert died in 2000 and Neil died in 1972, and Neil's papers are included with other NSSL documents in the History of Science collections at O.U.
Assistant Professor (1969-1970)
As I said in the story "Why Norman:..." , my intention in moving to the University of Oklahoma was to get a job, and I got one working on Professor Sasaki's contracts. I'd never done well with structured education starting in kindergarten and I'd especially had my fill of course work and tests after completing the masters in geophysics at UofC. I needed to escape the confines of the classroom. My future was unclear - maybe a job as a math teacher at some junior college; but before that, a little respite where I could relax, take a vacation from school of any kind, and save a little money. And Norman, Oklahoma suited me just fine - a rural area, wide-open spaces, friendly people, and a chance to become an avid sports spectator of quality athletics at OU. I was at a crossroads, and there was a "fork in the road' as Yogi Berra likes to say, and I took a turn on Sasaki Blvd. Twilight Zone anyone!
Although I didn't know it at the time, I'd found my "teacher", a teacher in the sense of Hermann Hesse's master-pupil studies: "when the student is ready, the teacher will come". He became known as "Doc" to me, an affectionate reference to him that was coined by his first protégé, Rex Inman. I no longer learned in the classroom, rather in the company of this most unusual Oriental professor - an Oriental man who often reminded me of Charlie Chan, that inscrutable detective of Hollywood fame. I often felt that I was being taught on the streets of Tokyo, with that wonderful absence of exact interpretation of his statements. He indeed was inscrutable and his statements were stanzas from a poem that allowed for multiple interpretations. He taught by the Socratic Method: stiff and substantive questions that required hours of contemplation and counterargument. He welcomed disagreement but demanded that I convince him of my line of argument by demonstration on his blackboard or over cups of coffee in the Memorial Union. Sometimes the discussions would go into the late evening and then we sometimes continued in the comfort of his home on Timberdell (often with a tasty meal prepared by Koko and in the company of their sons, Oko and Jimmy).
The word micromanagement was not in Doc's vocabulary, and he welcomed variance in education. After the year of working for him at OU, I again felt the wanderlust and told him I wanted to get more work experience. He didn't hesitate to encourage me. I moved to Houston, TX, and took a job on a seismic ship, Miss Frieda, that detonated the waters and underlying shelf of the Gulf of Mexico in the search for oil deposits. During breaks, I would return to OU and talk to Doc. Rather than stressing meteorology, he asked me about my job in exploration seismology. I soon found out that he knew a lot more about P- and S-waves than the company geophysicists. His education at University of Tokyo was so broad that it included all branches of geophysics- and as I would later find, a solid foundation in theoretical physics and pure mathematics. With money in the bank and marriage to my sweetheart from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, I now headed back to OU.
As was the standard for both Walter Saucier and Yoshi Sasaki, the PhD dissertation in meteorology followed C. - G. Rossby's dictum (1) :
Select a thesis topic and begin the investigation for the dissertation under the supervision of a faculty member. The student, as part of the demonstration of originality, will be expected to propose his own thesis topic.
Doc would nary offer a clue on a dissertation topic. Nevertheless, he would offer meaningful suggestions on my topic of interest. In particular, I remember expressing some concern about entrainment of air at the top of a mixed layer overlain by a strong inversion. He simply said, "you might want to consider it as a problem in quantum mechanics; specifically look at the potential well problem". I did and it led me to enroll in the graduate quantum mechanics course at OU taught by the Brit Colin Plint. It was the best course I ever took in college or university. After two potential dissertation topics blew up, I once again decided I needed to leave the university for a while. I asked Doc if he would object to me applying for a job at National Meteorological Center (NMC) in Suitland, MD. He thought it would be a good idea. I applied and was in quick receipt of a letter from Fred Shuman, head of the Development Division, offering me a job - at the GS-12 level! Undoubtedly, Doc must have phoned Shuman! I gained greatly in the company of Shuman, Jim Howcroft, Armand Demaris, John Stackpole, Joe Gerrity of the Development Division and learned much from map discussions by Forecast Division meteorologists Ed Fawcett and Harlon Saylor. Within several months, I had my dissertation topic working. On return to OU, I included a variational analysis scheme to get optimal initial conditions for my forecast model and the dissertation was completed in short order.
I learned at the foot of a modern-day Socrates, Professor Yoshikazu Sasaki. I appreciate Doc's acceptance of variance in education that allowed me to leave OU for two separate jobs that were necessary stops on my path to becoming a scientist.
And I must thank my mentor from University of Chicago, George William Platzman (GWP), for suggesting that I go to Oklahoma and work on Doc's projects. And it was Walt Saucier who accepted me into the meteorology program at OU simply based on GWP's recommendation. To these scientists, I owe so much.
(1) Division of Physical Sciences, 1950: Announcements of the Division of Physical Sciences, Vol. 50, No. 8, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Good morning. I was in the undergraduate Class of 1977 ... classmates included Dick Elder (NWS MIC in Wichita, KS), Larry Ruthi (NWS MIC in Dodge City), Randy Garvin (retired Air Force Lt. Col.), Phil Bothwell (SPC)
We learned to draw a diagonal line on the edge of IBM punch cards so that if we dropped our stack of cards we could quickly reassemble them. Dr. Eddy required a lot of punch card time for the students.
John McGinley assisted the synoptic discussions of the day by introducing us to his version of Hovmoller Diagrams. The traditional method was to record the 500mb height at each 10 degrees of longitude (for whatever latitude is chosen). Instead, McGinley recorded the latitude that a given height line crossed each longitude line ... worked great until the iso-height line crossed the same longitude multiple times (like a Rex or Omega block) ...
Jeff Kimpel taught synoptic lab in those days. His favorite analysis project was to have students in a Gordon Lightfoot mood ... he had us analyze the storm that did in the Edmund Fitzgerald.
One of the faculty (Kimpel will know) had some "sing along" weather songs including one about vorticity ... the songs made for great weather parties (which could never be held now).
We were in the first dynamics class taught by Howie Bluestein. The old chalkboards were not smooth at all ... making long equations quite sporting for Howie ...
Storm chasing was different ... we had three teletype machines. I loaned our synoptic area a police scanner so we could hear the early chase vehicles and HAM radio accounts.
The department had some kind of relation with local radio stations, so undergraduate students were often relaying weather reports by phone to the local radio station.
The Union City tornado of 1973 continued to have a major impact on research and teaching through the late 70s period of our class ... others may reflect on that.
It was in the spring of 1967 (I think), that my first wife Terri and I, who lived in Noble, about 10 miles south of Norman, headed for work on North Base. I was a finishing MS student under Gene Wilkins, and Terri was a French teacher at the University Lab School, which was two buildings north of the Meteorology Department, just past NSSL. There was a large column of smoke that seemed to be a fire in Norman, as we drove north. But as we approached Norman, we could see that the fire was even further north. As we approached North Base, to our horror, we could see a building fully engaged. As we got closer, it was one of three buildings, but we could not at first realize which, the Meteorology Department, NSSL, or the Lab School. Well we all know it was the department. I arrived just in time to see the large rotating tank of a thunderstorm, the subject of my thesis, melt and drop into the basement! The building was a complete loss. Joe Friday and I were roommates working on various aspects of the rotating storm. Many dissertations and theses were lost; mine was in final draft form in my briefcase, thank goodness. This was a turning point for the Department, which moved to the main campus, and I believe started a process that led to the development of the Weather Center on South Base.
When I arrived at OU in 1964, after finishing a BA in Physics from Grinnell College in Iowa, I had a lot of meteorology to learn. I came under the wing of Yoshi Sasaki and Gene Wilkins, and eventually wrote my thesis on a tank experiment of a rotating thunderstorm. I did not do well academically for the first year, with B's and C's; not good enough. However, in my second year, I took Numerical Weather Prediction from Rex Inman, and every thing changed. Rex was a rough, tough instructor, who made his students work very hard. I received an A, and after that, mostly all A's at OU. Rex was the best professor I had, and codified my career in meteorology. I will never forget my thesis defense. When I had finished presenting my material, there was the expected discussion by the faculty present, nodding of heads; I thought all was well, and I gathered my viewgraphs to put them in by briefcase. Rex asked me where I was going. I said, "Aren't we finished here?" Rex said not a word, but used a negative roll of his head of "no". He said "go to the three large boards, erase them, and write F=MA in the upper left hand corner. Now derive the full equations of motion in polar cylindrical coordinates. If you can do that perfectly, then we are done." I about fell over dead but did it perfectly, and my career continued! Years went by. I came and went as a OU faculty member, after finishing my PhD at the University of Chicago under Roscoe Braham, with Fujita and Joanne Simpson on my committee. Rex recruited me back, and I stayed through tenure, then went to NCAR on sabbatical and never returned to OU (Bob Serafin had to pay Rex back for the portion of my sabbatical covered by OU!). I then went on to address Aviation Weather research, microbursts (with Fujita), and established a new division at NCAR, now called the Research Applications Division, first called the Research Applications Program. While a student in the department, and later on Faculty, I learned what a warm and kind person Rex was, under a tough guy veneer. I cared very much for Rex, and years later, when he lay at home dying, I came to see him a week before the end, to reminisce on his career, his impact on my microburst experiences, to say good bye. It was a joy to be with him near the end.
Some background on my time at OU: I was a US Air Force Officer each of the three times I attended OU: basic met student from Sept 1964-Aug 1965, MS student from Jun 1968-Dec 1969, and PhD student from Sep 1973-Dec 1975.
We had our classes on the main campus but we took our labs on the north campus. These were old World War II wood buildings that had been "rode hard and put up wet." The National Severe Storms Lab was across the street, also in WW II buildings. NSSL had the Weather Surveillance Radar (WSR) 57 and we could visit to get some idea of what severe storms looked like-the tornado hook echo and the hail shaft blanking.
In the lab, we had to calculate constant absolute vorticity trajectories (CATV) using a specialized paper slide rule. This is how we made forecast of 500 mb height fields. One of our instructors had a Wobius Wiggle Wagon that was as a tool to make 500 mb forecast but we never used it. We were able to cross-check our forecast of the ridges and troughs with the USWB 4-panel chart. The 4 panel chart had 12, 24, 36 and 48 hour forecast of the 500 mb vorticity and height fields from the barotropic model run on the US Weather Bureau computers in Washington DC. The charts were transmitted over a facsimile machine which used a rotating roller with an embedded wire that burned special paper to make the charts. This baratropic model was one of the first models run by the USWB.
All the 30-35 Air Force basic met students plus the regular met students took Dr. Saucier's Intro to Meteorology course/Atmospheric Geophysics. All the students had bachelor's degrees, mostly in math, physics or sciences. However I don't think any of us had ever encountered someone like Dr. Saucier. He was a superb teacher but gave diabolical 40 question true false tests. Of course, we developed various strategies to "pass the test." Most questions had multiple related parts. All parts had to be true to get a right answer of true. If one part was false, then the answer was false [See Joe Friday's vignette]. The group of basic met students often discussed various approaches to taking the tests. One idea was to count the number of words. If it was an odd number and the number of letters in the last word was odd then the answer was true. We had a number of other ideas on word counting. I don't think any of us ever employed these approaches. One time the day before one of Dr Saucier's tests, a basic met student took a piece of paper wrote the numbers 1-40 and then wrote true or false beside each number; this is pre-test. After the actual test was graded and returned, we knew the correct answer to each question. The basic met student then graded his pre-test. His grade was better on the pre-test than on the actual test. We recognized that this was pure luck but it did give us something to think about.
My wife, Margaret, and I lived east of the university in a small duplex. We were married just before we came to OU. We had no air conditioning in the duplex. In the spring and summer of 1965, she was pregnant with our first daughter. She would come over our building on the main campus just to get out of the heat. I spent a number of hours with my fellow Air force students at our small dining table doing dynamics problems. We used regular slide rules and paper and pencils to work out the homework problems (we had no hand-held calculators at the time).
In the summer of 1965, I took Cloud Physics from Dr Rex Inman. He used Horace Byer's book. To this day I remember the molar Gibbs function but can't tell you what it meant or was used for.
Margaret and I rented a house in North Norman. We did this so I would be close to the North Campus buildings. We'll right after we rented, I found out that the building had burned down and all classes were in Felgar Hall. NSSL would subsequently construct its new office/research center on the site of the OU Department of Meteorology North Campus buildings.
In the fall of 1968, I took an engineering course in programming digital computers. In it we learned FORTRAN II. I think the school had an IBM 360 that was located in another section of the campus. I never saw the mainframe. All our FORTRAN computer programs were typed on cards and submitted via RJE. Remote job entry. It usually took anywhere between a few hours and a day to get your output pack, only to find out that you had a typo and logic mistake. It could take a few days and multiple runs to get the solutions.
Neal (or Neil) Ward, a NSSL researcher, constructed a tornado vortex machine in the first floor lab of Felgar. This was one of the first vortex machines ever constructed. The main offices and classrooms were on the second floor. The machine was 5 foot in diameter, about 7 feet high made of plywood and wire mesh. There was a fan on top to exhaust the air, the wire mesh would rotate at the speed selected by Neal/ Smoke would enter through numerous holes drilled in the floor. It was very instructive to watch Neal conduct his experiments.
Also located in the room was a large Plexiglas cylinder (2' in diameter and 5' tall.) The cylinder would be filled with water, and then it would start to rotate. Soap foam would be injected through the bottom so the researchers could study buoyancy in a rotating fluid. You could also study spin up and spin down. (During my doctorial program I took a theory of geostrophy course and the aerospace engineering department and we investigated the boundary layers associated with spin up and the chaotic nature of spin down.
To make the soap foam, the department had 2 commercial blenders. Since we were having a daiquiri party at house one night, we needed a few blenders. I "borrowed" the ones from the department, spent a few hours cleaning them out and then set them up in our kitchen. Every time we started them up it sounded like an airplane engine winding up. To say the least the party was a rousing success with some people not leaving until the early morning.
I took advanced synoptic/Meteorological Analysis II from Dr. Saucier. He used his book on synoptic meteorology. This was the "bible" (this was his statement.) He told us about the few mistakes in the book and we had to correct them. One student in this 4 hour, early afternoon class was Ernie Marion. Since the class began just after lunch, it was 2:30 before the first break. Dr. Saucier would tell the student sitting next to Ernie to wake Ernie up just before the start of the first break. (Ernie was an excellent student and did well in class.) In a discussion on buoyancy and auto convection, Dr. Saucier asked why you put the alcohol in the glass before the mixer. Ernie immediately answered it was so there was room for the booze. This caused Dr. Saucier to break up.
Dr. Saucier always wore the same off white color shirt, tie and grey pants. In fact, he wore the same uniform while I was in basic met and while I was working on my masters.
There were a lot of issues in the department when I came back for my PhD. I think Dr. Saucier had been the department chair but after Dr. Amos Eddy came Dr Saucier was replaced and he left and went to NC State to start up that meteorology department. There were two camps in the department-those who were hired by Dr. Saucier or had some allegiance to him. These people were at the end of the hall near the steps. The other group had an allegiance to Dr Eddy. They were at the other end of the second floor. The tension was palpable but didn't impact the teaching.
There was a big room on the Student Union side of Felgar Hall where many meteorology graduate students had their "offices." We were able to partition off offices by using bookcases and stands, but there was no real privacy. For 2 years, Chuck Doswell was in the "office" just in front of me and Joe McFarland was just across the floor. I spent a number of evenings solving the world's problems with Chuck. We also talked lots on meteorology.
Dr. Jeff Kimpel was a just hired assistant professor when I came back for my doctorate. His office was at the top of the steps in Felgar Hall. Since Jeff was in the Air Force before he went back to Wisconsin for his doctorate, and we were close to the same age, we had a lot in common. So when I would go in on Sunday to study or work on my dissertation, if Jeff was in his office preparing for his upcoming classes. I would stop by and have lots of wide ranging discussion with him. Although I never took one of his classes, it was very important to see and understand a professor as a human being.
Dr. Rex Inman was the department chair and also taught numerical weather prediction. Since my thesis had involved NWP and Rex was on my committee, I did lots of research on NWP. I took this class to gain more depth of understanding. One of the semester problems was to write a function primitive equation model over a small grid. I was having problems with one subroutine or section and I went into his office. He essentially called me an idiot because I couldn't find the problem. I got pissed and told him I wouldn't be in his office if I knew what was wrong so just help me. He did and I quickly found my mistake. He also gave us a final that he "allowed" 4 hours to complete. After I completed the test and dropped off the answers, I told him it was really a 4 hour test and he shouldn't violate the university rules on 2 hour finals. He just laughed. I got an A in the course and he was on my doctoral committee.
Dr. Amos Eddy had one of the first classes on sustainability. The class was divided into 3 groups: one dealt with rain, one with grass and one with cows. The rain made the grass grow and the grass made the cow population increase. Each group had to do lots of research on simulation techniques and on the various components (cow, grass, and rain). By varying of the parameters of the experiment we could see the feedback mechanisms working. Dr. Eddy also would treat the students of the class like 6th graders, when we didn't respond or produce what he wanted. This generated a lot of animosity.
Dr. Yoshi Sasaki was my major professor. He would be working on a research question and would suddenly look up at the clock in his office to see it was time for class. He would whip into class still thinking of the problem. I always felt he was a master at multi-tasking-teaching and research.
One early morning (2:00 AM) I was in the computer center that was next door to Felgar, using an IBM O29 to type cards that made up dissertation computer program. I looked to my right and there was Dr. Sasaki typing computer cards. We talked briefly and both went back to typing computer cards.
By the time I was in my doctoral program, the University had upgraded to and IBM 370. It was very powerful by the standards of the day. We dropped our programs off at the RJE site and then came back and picked up our printout and card decks. (You only hoped that you never dropped the box with your program and subroutines. This could set your research back for days, weeks, or months.) Since my dissertation program would take over an hour to compile, it was run at night. So I wouldn't see the results till the next day. To find out if I had any typos or logic mistakes, I would compile my programs on the department's PDP 1145. While this was a simple machine, it did save me a lot of time because I was quickly able to correct error before submitting the program to the mainframe.
Dr. Claude Duchon taught atmospheric radiation. Part of the way through class it became obvious to me only 2 beings understood atmospheric radiation-god and Chandrasekar-and I wasn't sure about god. Dr Duchon did a very good job teaching the course.
As part of my dissertation research, I linearized the equations I was using and wrote a 19 line FORTRAN program the called a number of scientific subroutines that we part of the IBM 370 package. I got some very unexpected results. I spent 2 weeks going over every computer card/hole punch, scientific subroutine, etc but still couldn't understand what was happening. With visions that I wouldn't complete my dissertation in the time the Air Force had allocated, I made an appointment with Dr. Sasaki, my dissertation advisor. He told me to go the blackboard in his office and write down what I had done and some of the results. After a few minutes, his face lit up and he asked me a few pointed questions. That was a true Ah Ha moment for both of us. I had just explained the "noise" he was seeing in his research results and completely understood my results and their impact. These results were going to be an appendix in my dissertation. Dr. Sasaki said no, this section was going to be in main body of the dissertation.
I think it was while I was working on my doctorate (73-75), there were a number of student storm chasers. They would gather in the facsimile/map room in Felgar Hall in the morning and review all the data and severe storms forecast center projections. Then a group would jump in one student's car and off they would go to try to intercept tornadoes in OK, West TX, and Southern KS. I don't think they were funded at the time. They did this for the pure excitement and for the potential science. I never went with them (and I do regret it). I think the student storm chasing group was well established by the time I got there in 1973, but I don't remember the group existing in 1969.
Wally Chaplin entered the meteorology doctoral program about a year after I did. We were both US Air Force student (Captains), lived on Cherrystone Street, had 4 children (3 girls and a son), and went to the same church. Imagine the implied questions we got from people at church or social gathering when people would go through the most normal questions when you first meet. They get all this background info and then when they talked to Wally they'd get the same info or when they talked to our wives, they couldn't figure out who was the husband. Wally and Pat are still very good friends after 35 years.
George Lynn Cross Research Professor (1974-1994)
George Lynn Cross Research Professor Emeritus (1994-present)
As John Lewis (1) wrote correctly, my interest was in science at my young age before, during and after WW II. However, when I became a member of Professor Syono's weather modification experiment team as a student at Tokyo University after WW II in late 1940s, I learned importance of SAN-GAKU-KAN cooperation. SAN, GAKU and KAN stand for industry, academe and government (or IND-ACAD- GOV) respectively in Japanese. Demand of electric power was growing in Japan for better living of people and economic and technological development. Tokyo Electric Company was providing research funds to stimulate precipitation to generate hydro-electric power.
As John Lewis (1) described, federal funding from KAN after WW II was very poor at Tokyo University in spite that Tokyo University was the top of the federal universities in Japan. Tokyo Electric Company's funding stimulated government to create new federal position of Assistant Professor in Cloud Physics relating weather modification at Tokyo University. After Professor Syono passed away, the cloud physics program moved to Nagoya University and has grown up to a leading center of cloud physics and weather radar technology in Japan. Joe Friday was a key member to establish the first national radar network, NEXRAD, who is a graduate of OU.
In addition to weather radar for storm detection, it was well recognized since the first electronic computer Eniac used for meteorology that computer plays important roles in weather programs. I was fortunate to get acquainted with then President Mita of Hitachi in 1980s, who was the leader of computer programs as well in Hitachi, made donation of Hitachi Endowed Chair which was matched by the state and also a super computer that triggered to establishment of new School of Computer Sciences (CS) at OU. Faculty and students of CS have close relation to those of SOM and National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL). Because of influence of President Boren who is former Governor of the state and former US senator, the state shared the cost of constructing National Weather Center building with Federal Government.
SAN-GAKU-KAN Cooperation means cooperation among SAN, GAKU and KAN each of which has its own unique preferable features and constraints. However, cooperation makes us possible to use them most effectively. I have experienced in many occasions that SAN-GAKU-KAN cooperation is important to protect lives and properties of people from natural disaster. Without the GAKU-KAN cooperation between OU and NSSL, NWC does not exist.?Because of the GAKU-KAN cooperation, OU students can see and experience nature of their possible future jobs daily nearby government, and find financial support for student part time work at NSSL operation to support their study. OU was able to hire experts as Adjunct Professor to teach and supervise student degree programs. GAKU-KAN cooperation started in 1964, four years after we started P/D at OU. Without SAN, the local TV companies, radar manufacturing companies and others, we could not effectively save the lives and minimize injury. The cooperation also serves for betterment of people livings. Accurate weather information is helping many areas of our livings and businesses.
Each of SAN, GAKU and KAN has own unique characteristics and constraints. SAN implies profit-making business and customer-based, in private sector. KAN implies non-profit and tax-revenue-based, in public domain. GAKU is a mixture of and between them. Successful cooperation is analogous to a solution of constrained optimization under the constraints created by different policies of SAN, GAKU, and KAN. It is however very possible to find an appropriate solution as in constrained optimization.
Meteorology is multi-disciplinary, from all of basic to applied disciplines. I was interested in typhoon research* at Tokyo University, variational analysis (2) at Texas A. & M. College and tornado research at OU. For these specific topics, I found it important to open always eyes to and get inspiration from all of other disciplines. Especially through SAN-GAKU-KAN cooperation, we can identify effectively the most demanded topic and research funding sources.
Finally, at 50th anniversary of meteorology program, I would like to mention that we owe much to the world outstanding leadership and strong support of President David Boren towards the realization of his dreams in weather programs at OU.
(1) John M. Lewis, 2009: Sasaki's Pathway to Deterministic Data Assimilation. Data Assimilation for Atmospheric, Oceanic and Hydrologic Applications. Seon K. Park, Liang Xu (Eds.), Springer-Verlag Berlin Heiderberg, 1-19.
(2) John M. Lewis and S. Lakshmivarahan, 2008: Sasaki's Pivotal Contribution: Calculus of Variations Applied to Weather Map Analysis. Mon. Wea. Rev., Vol. 136, 3553-3567.
I have always been proud of my father, and of all that he accomplished given his rather humble background. He expected us to be humble, too, reminding us that we came from a long line of 'poor folks'.
His father was a farmer who began with very little. In fact, the family was displaced by the great Mississippi River flood of 1927. Though his parents were not well-educated, they clearly stressed education. Three of their six children graduated from college, on scholarships, during the Great Depression. My father's first language was not English; and like others of his generation, in school he learned to be ashamed of his French heritage and of its language. Consequently, few people knew that he was bilingual.
He was strict, but with an emphasis on expectation over force. His disciplinary methods reflected that. When I had not done a chore as directed, I was told to walk out to the back of the yard and find the switch that would be used on me. It was a long walk during which I had lots of time to ponder my failings. When I returned with the switch, I received barely a tap; but the message was clear.
He always reviewed our report cards. When our grades slipped, there was no yelling or punishment, just a simple 'You can do better.' He had high educational expectations for us, but he did not push or pressure anyone. In most aspects, he was like other fathers of his generation - rather distant emotionally and focused more on providing for his family than on 'quality time'.
When a rare bit of spare time allowed, he did join in our games. Late one day he walked out into the backyard where we and neighborhood kids were playing kickball. We thought he might be coming to call us in, but instead he wanted to join in the game. His participation led the grandmother next door to join the game too - her grandchildren loved that. He joined our kickball games occasionally after that, and sometimes shot hoops with our brother and his friends. He taught my daughter how to shoot a basketball during her summer visits to Raleigh.
Like many men of his generation, when he had the time, he loved Sunday afternoon drives in the countryside. Anyone who responded to his "Who wants to go for a ride?" went along; usually there were two or three of us kids riding along, looking for Burma Shave signs.
Though he was quite strict, and could be authoritarian, he had a soft spot too. At one point, we brought home a puppy from a neighborhood litter. He told us "You're not keeping that dog." Seven years later, he was still saying, though rarely, "You're not keeping that dog." Once he had put food for his annual backyard bash on a picnic table without realizing that the dog was still in the yard. Naturally the dog gobbled the food. Dad was upset, and said a few choice words, but headed to the supermarket to replace the food - and the dog remained in residence, though confined to the garage during any backyard events.
We were expected to help around the house and to help out with his many projects, though it's doubtful that we had to help out as much as he had when he was growing up. In this too, he led by example, repeatedly demonstrating that a reasonably intelligent person can do almost anything after thorough study and planning. When our family began to outgrow our house in Texas, he doubled the size of it, doing almost all of the work himself - with our oldest brother's assistance. He also made renovations to our houses in Oklahoma and North Carolina. One of his smaller building projects did not work out so well. When our mother was about to give birth to twins, he decided to convert the crib into a king-size crib to accommodate both babies. Who knew that twins would want to roll to the center to be together, and out of reach, in a king-size crib? Despite those rare slip-ups, he certainly gave us a 'can do' spirit. We had a large garden in the early years in Texas and some of us older children learned planting and weeding at a young age. A large garden must have become too much of a drain on his time, as he did not return to gardening until he was older.
With his children he was always fair, showing no favoritism to any one of us. Many Christmases we received a Whitman's Sampler (or similar) box of candy. After supper, he would have us gather around as he opened the box and allowed each person to choose one piece of candy. Then he chose one. As an adult, he could have argued that he deserved more than one, but he never took more than one piece. And he counted the missing pieces each night, so we knew no one was sneaking any candy. (It also reinforced our arithmetic skills.) It was never "Do as I say, not as I do." It was "Follow my example", with self-discipline at the core.
His treating each of us fairly, with no favorites, sometimes led to problems with siblings who thought they deserved special treatment. Sadly, some still resent his 'equal treatment of all' as the best way to manage a large family. I truly hope that you do not receive any nasty comments, but if you do, consider this context.
A defining event that I would like add to this narrative was the disastrous fire at the lab on the OU North Campus in the late 1960's and my father's reaction to it. I still remember his rushing out of the house following that early morning phone call alerting him to the fire. After he returned home later in the day, he was not the same man. He clearly was devastated by that fire; for weeks he would spend evenings seemingly staring into space. As an adult now, I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for him to cope both with the possibility that his hopes and plans for the OU meteorology program may have gone up in smoke, and with, what seemed at the time, to be a rather casual response to the disaster from the university.
He was born October 5, 1921 in Moncla, Louisiana. His parents were Louis Edmond Saucier and the former Sidonie Moncla (whose father and grandfather were the ones the little town was named for; Moncla was formerly a site of ferry across the Red River before there was a bridge there, the ferry run by my great-grandfather Ernest Moncla). I could give you a lot more genealogy than that if you are interested, as my father compiled ancestry going back as much as a dozen generations. I will note that my father was not the first to have the degree of doctor. My great-great-grandfather Joseph Moncla was a medical doctor, and my father's aunt Corinne Saucier had a doctoral degree and taught languages at a smaller state university in Louisiana. My father lived at Moncla for the first few years but then the family moved to a farm on the outskirts of Cottonport, La., where he attended school from primary to high school. He had three sisters and two brothers: He was the second of the three sons. He went to college at what is now Univ. of Louisiana - Lafayette (then called Southwest Louisiana Institute, I believe) and upon graduating went into the military in World War II -- they sent him for a training program at the Univ. of Chicago I believe to prepare him for work in a weather squadron. While at college in La. he met his wife, the former Helen Nobles, they were married in Chicago in May 1943 just before he deployed. She was also from a small town in Louisiana (Hackberry, down near Lake Charles).Here is a couple of interesting stories about Norman that I remember (the second involves my dad more than the first):We lived at 848 Elm in a white colonial house on the corner of Elm and Lindsey; I think that house is no longer there, nor the former brown brick house next door to the north which was then occupied by an elderly couple (the Chastains) who had participated in their youth in the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889. Anyway, 848 Elm was at an intersection that had a lot of students walking by every day going to classes from various off-campus apartments out west on Lindsey. We had a fenced backyard, but students walking down the sidewalk on the north side of Lindsey could see through the chain-link fence into backyard. Around 1965 my oldest sister won a horse (a black Shetland pony) in a raffle in a rodeo out on the east side of Norman somewhere. Initially, she had no place to put the horse, so we kept it in the backyard. For a few weeks, this was a bit of a local sensation, having a horse behind a fence right across from campus. Not sure if this sort of thing is legal anymore in Norman (maybe it was not then, come to think of it).I had a dog a neighbor gave me as a puppy, who we also kept in that backyard (but for a much longer time than the horse). One day he escaped from the yard and went running west on Lindsey and I as recall went a few blocks down, found the dean who was overseeing that part of OU that my father was in, and promptly bit that dean in the leg. Sorry I don't remember the name of the dean, but I do remember my dog was named Fritz. Fritz was not acting at my father's direction. Nor at mine. But that's about the darndest thing a dog ever did.
'Cajun' has become a somewhat ambiguous word, but it's derived from "Acadiens" -- the French pioneers who originally (starting around 1620) settled in what is now Nova Scotia (then, Acadia). When the British took Canada around 1760 the Acadiens were forced to leave -- many went to New Brunswick but a large number were deported, a good portion of them eventually ending up in south central Louisiana in the plains around Lafayette and Opelousas. They were considered somewhat low-class by the other French in south Louisiana (whom my dad called Creoles). My dad is not descended from Acadiens at all (though my mom is, on her mother's side), but from those who (mostly) came to Louisiana from Quebec in the early 18th century or (some) came directly to Louisiana from France (in the 18th and 19th century). Actually, historically the 'creoles' did often have something against the acadiens, to a degree that some with acadien ancestry sought to conceal it (they did on my mother's side of the family until about 1985 when my mother's own genealogical investigations revealed it).There's some similarity between Justin Wilson's way of speaking and my father's, although Wilson had a more distinctly Cajun accent. The use of humor was somewhat similar. My father did not actually cook very much (my mom cooked 95% of his meals), and his gardening consisted mostly of lettuce and peppers. He did like to can those peppers. I enjoyed his jars of them a lot myself. In our family there was a strong emphasis on fairness and honesty and self-discipline, and a strong expectation that one do well in school. All seven of us got a college degree. I certainly did pick up my father's attitude of "whatever you set your mind to, you can accomplish."
Prof. Saucier's teaching style was one to keep students interested. His style was to be humorous, but still teaching some specific point, always keeping the interest of his students. I remember one of his statements was "that without a little friction, none of us would be here!" That one always stuck with me for some reason. There are not a lot of specifics that I remember from his classes, but I remember a friendly, always available and helpful, professor. Not aloof by any means.
His [Saucier's] personality was one of being very friendly and humorous. I think that his utilitarian ways were one of the things that impressed me and also one that probably made our relationship a little closer than most students and professors as I am/was the same way and shared those things with him about growing up on the farm and working - nothing that I could not do - building furniture, houses, etc. I never referred to him as "Walt" although I am sure that would have been fine with him, but in my upbringing, that would have been disrespectful. We met at a satellite conference in Boulder about a year or so after I had gotten my M.S. (he was on the review board for that) and joined the National Hurricane Research Laboratory. He and I sat together along with a retired Air Force Colonel at the banquet. We all knew "Joe" Friday who in my opinion is about the most intelligent person I know with the unusual quality of common sense and at the same time, being humble for one with those capabilities. Anyway, in our discussion, I brought up how Joe would help us classmates in Rex Inman's kinematics and dynamics class. I will enlarge on that situation next. It turned out that the retired Air Force Col. (name fails me at the moment) had been Joe's "supervisor" at Offutt. As a side note, I believe that Professor Saucier made the Air Force aware of Joe's capabilities and personality early on and that led to the special assignments of Joe at Scott and then Offutt while the rest of our class went on to more routine assignments. This Col. knew Prof. Saucier from their Air Force connections. Since I was telling them of Joe's accomplishments at OU from my perspective as did Prof. Saucier, the Col. told us that Joe may have been a 1st Lt. under him, but that he did little supervising. He told the story that Joe, accompanied by the Col. were "asked" to come to the Pentagon to brief some 4 star general and others on some aspect of Joe's work with the satellite program. Joe was working in the top secret "green" room - special satellite operations at Offutt at the time. The Col. said that Joe was the only Lt. he had ever known who had a car and driver pick them up (I assume at Washington National, but perhaps Andrews) and take them directly to the Pentagon. Joe provided the briefing and the Col. said that at the end, the General said "young man, you are underpaid"!
I had gotten a rental car at that conference and on our day off from the conference, Prof. Saucier and myself as well as one other person (maybe the Col.) decided to drive up through the mountains. It was August and at the pass over the mountain, (Love pass?) the road was closed temporarily because of a snow storm. We were out walking around on this excursion and I believe that I have a slide somewhere of us together up there. The point here is that Prof. Saucier was very friendly, down to earth and an enjoyable person to be around, enjoying the sites and commodore, even with one of his old students!
Our class was small (10 or 11) depending how you count "We Jay?" who was originally in the class one semester ahead of us, but was held back because of mathematical deficiencies. We would do things together such as play football, basketball, etc. Walter Bach and Don Maxwell taught me to play golf and we played about once a week or so on the University course - me with my beginners set of clubs. I was a decent basketball player and Rex Inman had played some college ball and would play with us. I could and was hitting jump shots and Rex was guarding me. I was hitting them over him, so I remember him after I shot one shot, raking his hand down over my face so that I would be thinking of that the next time I shot. Rex did not do that to be "dirty", but it was simply a trick he had learned in playing basketball. Rex and I were friends as I will relate later. Joe Friday did not play those sports with us, but would often come and watch us and cheer us on in our intramural play.
Our most difficult course was Rex Inman's kinematics and dynamics course. After Rex would finish the lectures, the class would frequently get together and Joe Friday would try to teach us what Rex had just lectured us on. I remember the results of the final test in that course. Joe Friday scored in the 80's, I and Walter Bach were in the high 50's or low 60's with Joe McFarland closely behind or with us and the rest of the class was much lower. When I was back for the M.S., my student cubicle/desk was next to Rex's office in the north campus building. I told Rex that the only "C" I had ever gotten in my meteorology courses was in his "lousy" kinematics and dynamics course. He went into his office and brought out his grade book for that course and told me that "you would have gotten an easy "B" today". (I got "A's" and "'B's" in Rex's and Professor Sasaki's advanced classes later on. Rex told me that he was always trying to "stump" Joe Friday and that was why those tests were so difficult! I told that story to Professor Saucier after Rex had passed away. I knew that some of my classmates had gone to Professor Saucier at the time to complain about Rex's course or grading being too difficult. Prof. Saucier then told me that now that Rex was no longer with us, he could tell me that Rex had gotten a "D" in that course under Hess at Florida State and had to take it over at that time and that was probably one reason that he was so tough on the rest of us. Rex however lightened up later on and as I said, I considered Rex to be a good friend who I discussed careers with, etc. He also took me to play golf with him on the course he was a member of and paid for my round when I was back for the PhD. The bottom line, with respect to our class was that most of us were very close at the time and enjoyed our time together, helping each other as we could. Of course after leaving there most of our paths did not cross again as we went our separate ways. Some contact occasionally, especially myself with Joe Friday when visiting Offutt and then Joe as my bosses' boss later in the NWS.
When I was back for the M.S. degree with Professor Sasaki as my major professor, there is one incident that stands out in my mind. I and all M.S. meteorology, engineering, and math level students were required to take an "Ordinary and Partial Differential Equations" course taught by the math department. The engineering school was not happy with the way the course was being taught - (too much theory and not enough applications). There were some 4 or 5 classes or more being taught each semester. I was married with 2 children by this time and living on the $225 graduate assistant stipend that Prof. Sasaki/ Prof. Saucier had arranged for me. With our previous AFIT program with half graduate and half undergraduate courses, I needed 2 semesters to finish the M.S. including the thesis. That is, I had to follow a rigid schedule with no room to adjust courses. They would not list the instructors for this math course, so you simply signed up based upon your desired schedule. I was told by other students and perhaps a professor, that if this certain female math professor walked into the class on the first day, simply get up, walk out and drop the class and reschedule for the next semester. Unfortunately, indeed that professor walked in and half of the class got up and walked out to drop the class. I had no such option! I worked harder on that course than any course in my life with the possible exception of Rex's kinematics and dynamics course. The professor was open to students coming to her for help, which I did on occasion, but even in class, it was apparent that she might have some problems, perhaps menopause, but I do not know that. She would sometimes cry when she was not able to get something across to the class. In one case, I was setting at my desk in the old north campus on a Sunday night at 10 p.m. working on a problem for that class. I had gone to the professor and she was not able to solve it herself or at least did not convey to me how to solve this problem. I was there alone as we had a key to the building. Prof. Sasaki walked in and ask me what I was doing? I told him about this problem that I could not solve. He looked over my shoulder and glancing at it, said here is the way to solve that problem. It involved an obscure Bessel function! I was of course astounded that Prof. Sasaki could solve that problem so easily. I related this story to Rex the next day and he said "Bob, you and I learn how to use math, Yoshi UNDERSTANDS it!" I think that is true with all of my years studying under Prof. Sasaki. In my opinion, no one knows and understands more about math and physics than Prof. Sasaki and yet he is one of the most humble people I have had the great privilege of knowing. When Prof. Sasaki ask me to come back and give the lecture for his retirement, I felt it was a great honor and did so. I told this story to those students and professors in attendance. At the end of my presentation, Prof. Sasaki was probably a little embarrassed by it and in his way to deflect this praise, he asked "Bob, what is a Bessel Function?" John, perhaps you were there at this lecture which also included an invited lecture in honor of Doug Lilly who was retiring at the same time.
With respect to how the programs at OU affected me in my career, it is immeasurable. Professor Sasaki had the greatest influence on my career as his reputation, I am sure, played a significant role in my being selected for a position at the National Hurricane Research Laboratory along with my thesis work on hurricanes. Not that a specific course imparted some magical knowledge, but that the way that the Professors/instructors taught us to think! That goes from Professor Saucier, Professor Sasaki, Rex Inman, Stan Barnes and Vic Whitehead for our AFIT program on through the others later on. My learning to forecast came from the instruction of Vic and others at OU, but also was very much OJT at Fort Knox, KY using local forecast studies, but also applying what I had learned at OU. I had to do some single station forecasting for the 101st Airborne, 501st Air Calvary and 2nd Armored Division during military exercises in South Carolina in 1963 and the Mojave Desert in 1964. Again, using observational powers and an occasional weather map, I was able to provide that support and received a great letter of commendation from 2 star general Jablonski at the end of the 3 month exercise in the Mojave Desert in 1964. As a side light there, I was out there for some 3 months and my wife was alone at Fort Knox, KY without family around and pregnant. I drove all night from Ft. Hood, Texas to get home (5 day convoy from Mojave to Ft. Hood and then immediately left from Ft. Hood after being released from this assignment). I arrived home at Ft. Knox around late a.m. on June 10, 1964, and was greeted by my very pregnant and over due wife. A few hours later on that day, my daughter was born! We had a 2 1/2 year old son at that time which I was able to take care of. He was born in the Norman hospital on November 22, 1961.
Dates at OU: Fall 1962-Spring 1964
Advisor: Y. Sasaki
TA for R. Inman (an experience I won't forget)
I was the 2nd or 3rd student to receive a graduate degree in Meteorology
When I graduated in Jan 64, the department hired me to go to Ponca City once or twice each month to run computer programs concerning research projects; this lasted until I left the department in June. Boy, all those computer card trays were heavy.
I remember the "Friday after work" gatherings at a local PUB [Jack's on Flood Street]. Those in attendance included Rex [Inman], Stan [Barnes], Sam [Hall], Dick [Litschgi], me, and probably others (excuse me if I omitted your name).
I remember OU football games: Bud Wilkinson's last year and Joe Don Looney was the running back.
Most agonizing event was assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963. I was driving from the campus to the Research Institute when it was announced.
During the summer of 1968 I participated in a University of Oklahoma research project to determine the feasibility of using a powered instrumented sailplane to investigate atmospheric convection. The project co-investigators were meteorology professor Dr. Alan Weber and electrical engineering professor Dr. Gene Walker. In 1968 the School of Meteorology was part of the College of Engineering and there was often interaction among the meteorology students and faculty and the other disciplines in the College of Engineering.
The powered sailplane was a two person tandem Nelson Hummingbird. It was piloted by a commercial pilot, Mr. Marshall Claybourn. The sailplane had a small engine with a backwards facing propellor that could rise from and return to a compartment behind the pilot and passenger. The engine was used for takeoff and then retracted so the sailplane could soar on thermal updrafts. The sampling strategy was to fly in a single updraft with the sailplane.
I assisted Dr. Walker with the construction of a thermocouple and housing to be mounted on the sailplane to sample the air temperature. The flight parameters such as airspeed, altitude, and orientation were recorded by a motorized Nikon 35mm camera photographing the aircraft instrument panel. One of my duties was to load and unload the film in the camera. It took several attempts before I became proficient in that task. After the film was developed I manually recorded the data from the photographs of the instrument panel.
The experiments with the sailplane were cut short when it was forced to make an unscheduled landing near Blanchard, Oklahoma in a farmer's field on July 23, 1968. Dr. Weber, myself, and other project participants had traveled to Chickasha by car to await the arrival of the sailplane flying from Norman to conduct experiments that afternoon. Because of the morning stable atmosphere the sailplane was flying under power from Norman to Chickasha. At about 700 feet the engine failed and Mr. Claybourn and Dr. Walker were forced to land prematurely. Receiving word via phone from a farmer's house near Blanchard of the unexpected landing all of us at the Chickasha airport drove to Blanchard with the sailplane trailer to retrieve the aircraft. Optimism for repairing the engine and resuming sailplane flights soon vanished when it was found that a piston rod had pushed though a cylinder wall in the engine. A replacement engine was not readily available.
The project was redirected to sampling convection with a small single engine aircraft. Atmospheric sampling instrumentation was quickly acquired by strapping a radiosonde package under the aircraft wing and recording the data with the radiosonde ground station. Flying the small airplane inside convection thermals was much less efficient than flying the sailplane.
This was a fun summer for me as an undergraduate student working with the meteorology faculty. The project inspired me to a research track in meteorology.
WJS hired me shortly after my graduation from Univ. of Utah in the spring of 1966. I had specialized in micrometeorology and atmospheric turbulence under Shih-Kung Kao. There was dearth of Ph.Ds in those days especially in the atmospheric micro scale. I was lucky to have that specialty and OU was in need, thus I got to join WJS and Yoshi Sasaki. Another faculty member had quit the year before (Ray Staley). When I arrived, I met Jerry Stephens for the first time. He had been at Texas and I can't remember whether or not he had previously been in a faculty position, but he had been in the Navy and had gained considerable practical experience. I certainly was glad to get a job since I had a family to support (three children at that point). There were also two talented instructors including Vic Whitehead and Stan Barnes.
Jerry Stephens and I were the new faculty members during the academic year of 66-67. As best I can remember, Jerry left the following academic year for FSU. Then, WJS and Yoshi hired Amos Eddy from University of Texas - Austin and Lothar Koschmieder from the University of Chicago. WJS and I left to go to NCSU in the fall of1969.
The faculty group during that period was remarkably well balanced with Sasaki providing leadership in the dynamics, etc., Saucier, Whitehead, Barnes in synoptic scale phenomena and forecasting for the many Air Force students that were being trained. Stephens in numerical, and me with micrometeorolgy. Areas we were lacking were upper atmosphere and atmospheric chemistry.
Students, well -- we were really blessed -- so many I can't begin to remember them all. In addition to you [JML] we had Joe Friday, Walter Bach, Chuck Doswell, and Jess Charba. I remember that you won the student forecasting contest to the surprise of everyone, since we had so many students with previous Air Force experience!!
WJS was the Department Head and really provided the leadership. There was an old barracks-style building near NSSL where the fax equipment and labs were located that was destroyed in a fire. After the fire we moved to the central campus to Engineering Lab across from the Memorial Union where I remember Joe Friday and Gene Wilkins of LTV set up an experimental apparatus. Neil Ward also had his rotating tornado model housed there when I left.
WJS had been under the thumb of the Dept. of Geography before I came, but became part of the Dept of Civil Engineering, with Gene Nordby as Dean. WJS and Norby didn't really get along that well as you surely know, and various political intrigues finally led to WJS and me leaving in the summer of 1969 for NCSU.
WJS was always an energetic, intelligent, honest department head. In his dealings our faculty, he could generally be looked to for support (unless he really hated the idea). I will always remember his long, hand-written memos to faculty. Sometimes he would produce pages of beautifully penned memos with almost never a correction or error. His sentences would flow on, get convoluted and it was hard to remember what he started out saying, but I could usually figure out what he was trying to convey. He loved to entertain students and faculty at his home. I had to pass up most of these invitations because of my young family.
His textbook was a classic for synoptic meteorology courses, and of course his true/false, multiple choice tests were devilish! He always had a wide smile on his face when discussing test questions!
A distinct advantage was having NSSL nearby to provide some interaction gifted people in severe weather and radar meteorology. I remember Roger Lhermitte showing me what he called "the bug wind" on radar. Ed Kessler was also very helpful in interacting with students and faculty.