i m A b e r s o n
My name is Sim Aberson, and I'm a research meteorologist with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Hurricane Research Division (HRD) in Miami. I mainly work on improving the computer models that help us to forecast where hurricanes are going to go and how strong they will be when they get there. To help to improve forecasts, we need to know what the weather is like over a large area of the oceans around hurricanes. Since nobody actually lives in the oceans and takes measurements there, we have to send airplanes into and around the hurricanes to make those measurements for us. When we have a good idea what the hurricane is doing now, we can make a better forecast. I am in charge of drawing the tracks that the NOAA jet follows to take these measurements. And, of course, I also get to fly into the hurricanes myself.
I got interested in hurricanes when I was only seven years old and living in a small town in upstate New York called Herkimer. Herkimer is far from tropical. In fact, it is in the snow belt where we would average about ten feet of snow every winter. However, it was Hurricane Agnes in 1972 that first interested me in meteorology. In June, Hurricane Agnes had just caused a lot of damage from Florida into New York. In fact, up to that point, it was the most damaging hurricane ever to hit the United States. Just a few months later, I moved to the Miami area and lived next door to retired science teachers who showed me how to track hurricanes on my own tracking charts. I was hooked, and from that point on, every summer I listened to my NOAA Weather Radio for the latest advisories on all the storms and tracked them diligently on my maps.
I had some good opportunities in the Dade County Public Schools that helped me get into a career in meteorology. In seventh grade, I did a year-long independent study class on hurricanes. I got to visit the National Hurricane Center for the first time and met a lot of the meteorologists who work there. In twelfth grade, I was in the Community Laboratory Research Program. As the last class of my day, I worked at the agency that is now HRD one hour every school day on processing some data to improve track forecasting. When I went to college, I kept working at HRD during summer and winter vacations, and eventually was hired after I finished my Master's Degree at Penn State University. Now, I am able to mentor my students in the same program and help them to become meteorologists like those who helped me almost 20 years ago.
I've now worked here since 1981, and feel like I'm doing the job I've always wanted to do. I enjoy it so much that I even log onto the computer at home to check on my storms at night and on weekends, and during the summer, the Weather Channel is almost always on the TV. From listening to the radio to get the latest positions of the hurricanes when I was young, to being in the midst of actually forecasting where the storms are going, I could not have a more enjoyable job.
When I'm not working, I live in Dania Beach, FL, a small town that was actually the first town in Broward County. Both Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, the two towns that surround Dania Beach, actually came later. I live in an old house by South Florida standards, a wood-frame house built in 1944, with my companion, Mike, a computer programmer, and our three cats, Kishano, Bajazet, and Rennat. We have a large yard where we collect rare palms and fruit trees. We also like to see lots of movies, plays, and travel around Florida to see the lesser-known, out-of-the-way attractions. We also spend a lot of time with on-line friends we've made through USENET, and sometimes even send each other e-mail even though we're sitting next to each other at our computers in the same room.
All in all, I feel like I'm living my dream. Since I was very young, I've always wanted to work in meteorology, especially researching hurricanes. Here I am almost 30 years after Hurricane Agnes, and I'm doing exactly that. My job is extremely fun and exciting, and I can't imagine doing anything else.
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