July 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 3 
Commercial Airplanes

The right climate

For the meteorologists at Jeppesen, weather is not just their business, it's their passion


The right climateMany have heard the jokes and quips about the reliability of weather forecasting, or have railed against the local TV weathercaster after a golf outing unexpectedly got washed out. While forecasting may not always go exactly as planned, predicting the weather is serious business for Jeppesen, a Boeing subsidiary.

The 14 aviation meteorologists at Jeppesen's office in San Jose, Calif., make up a diverse group of dedicated professionals with a common thread—a passion for the weather.

The zeal for weather and forecasting came at a young age for many of the meteorologists. "For me, it started early on in my life by simply watching airplanes en route to [Los Angeles International Airport] and pondering how the weather affected their flight," said Ray Stovall, meteorology supervisor. "Then the 1982 El Nino event hit the Los Angeles basin, producing many areas of localized flooding. This truly piqued my interest in meteorology and sent me on my journey to obtain a degree in the field with an emphasis on aviation forecasting."

For others it was tornadoes, hurricanes, flying or even surfing, as there is science behind the wave forecast. Meteorologist Dan Grams grew up in the Midwest, where the weather can often turn severe. "I was always fascinated by the power of late-afternoon thunderstorms," he said. "During my high school years, I became a trained and certified storm spotter for the county where I lived. I discovered just how tough it is to forecast a severe weather event, and this challenge led me to enroll in college and study meteorology."

Jeppesen's meteorologists play an integral role in the International Trip Planning service Jeppesen offers to corporate, commercial and military aircraft operators worldwide. They also produce hundreds of graphical weather maps that are available to users of Jeppesen's flight planning applications such as FliteStar, JetPlanner and OPSControl. The meteorological staff also interacts directly with customers by providing verbal briefings on weather conditions.

The right climateThis is right up Senior Meteorologist Mike McMahon's alley. "My passion for the weather started when I was a kid camping in the Sierras. I could sit for hours watching thunderstorms build, lightning flash and thunder boom. As an adult, I found that I love public speaking. Now, I'm able to share my passion for weather with pilots in the form of verbal briefs."

The staff's average experience of more than 10 years shows a commitment to the science and to the customers they serve. The Meteorology department is staffed around the clock to support operations around the globe.

The passion for the weather—once developed and brought together in a group such as the one at Jeppesen—has promoted strong camaraderie around a common goal of producing the best possible forecasts for Jeppesen's customers.

Accurately forecasting the weather is very important because these meteorologists make "mission-critical" forecasts for some of the world's most renowned people. Senior Meteorologist Bob Valko once made almost hourly forecasts for a senior business executive who was having a barbecue for U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev. "It was a little different than making a forecast for the morning paper," Valko said.



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