o n B u r g e s s
In 1976, NSSL and other Federal Government weather agencies formally began the Joint Doppler Operational Project (JDOP) to test the warning potential of the new radars. I was appointed JDOP Chief Meteorologist. We collected data in Oklahoma in 1977 and 1978 and issued a final report in 1979. The JDOP Final Report showed conclusively that Doppler radar had the potential to assist in the issuance of more accurate warnings, and, most important, warnings with enough lead time so that people could go to safe places before tornadoes struck. The JDOP Final Report initiated the Federal Government NEXRAD acquisition program in 1980. Also, beginning in the 1980s, increased computer power meant that computers could automatically search for the Doppler signatures. From 1979 until 1987, I was a member of the NSSL Meteorology Group, working with others to develop computer Algorithms to detect and display output from Doppler radars, work that was folded into the NEXRAD Program. In 1987, I became Chief of the NSSL Forecast Application Group where we developed Doppler techniques and applications for the NWS (public weather warnings), the FAA (weather hazards to safe aircraft flight), and the DOD (weather safety for military bases and operations).
When the NEXRAD contract was issued in 1988, our NSSL group began working with the NEXRAD Operational Support Facility (OSF) that was established in Norman. In 1991, as the first operational radars were being installed, I moved to the OSF as Chief of the Operations Branch. There, we aided in the installation of the radars, answered questions about radar operation (utilizing a 24-hour-a-day Hotline), and tested new components and algorithms for the radar. In 1995 as the last of the radars were being installed, I moved to my present job as Chief of the Training Branch.
I remain fascinated with storms and tornadoes, how they are seen by WSR-88D radars, and the limitations of radar sampling. I have written many articles on those topics as chapters in books and for meteorological journals. I have attended many weather radar and severe storm conferences around the United States, and in Canada, Europe, and Japan. I have been asked to be a keynote speaker at a number of non-meteorological meetings and conferences. I have been a member of many survey and assessment teams for tornado outbreaks, most recently for the tornado outbreak in central Florida on February 22-23, 1998, and the tornado outbreak in central Oklahoma on May 3, 1999.
I am married (Fran, since 1972) and I have two children; Laura (born in 1976, now finished with college, married, and living in Edmond, OK), and Russell (born in 1978, and now in college at OU). Neither of my children is a "weather freak" and neither has pursued a degree in meteorology.
I am a Deacon in the First Baptist Church of Norman; I was a youth baseball, basketball, and football coach (both girls and boys) for many years in Norman; I have served on the Board of Directors of the Cleveland County Red Cross; and I have been on the Steering Committee for the Cleveland County American Heart Association. I was proud to be elected as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society in 1993.
I enjoy my job, but a management/supervisory position means spending most of my time attending meetings and doing paper work. I do not have much time to personally present training materials or study sets of Doppler data. I will retire in about two years, and I look forward to a retirement job where I can again examine Doppler data from storms and tornadoes: it is still my favorite work thing to do. I also hope to write a book about the history of Oklahoma tornadoes, something for which I have been collecting material all my professional career.
In my spare time, I enjoy listening to bluegrass music; I enjoy chasing storms that are close to Norman, just to see the awesome power and beauty of nature; and, in summer, I enjoy trout fishing in Colorado, another expression of the beauty of nature.
Ed. Note: Don will be answering questions on-air and online as part of RESEARCHER Q&A during LIVE FROM THE STORM program 2.