The Pacific Northwest has had its fair share of harsh weather and natural disasters, and the National Weather Service is one of the key organizations when it comes to keeping people in this region safe.
Ted Buehner, who is the warning coordination meteorologist for this area, has been the tip of the spear when there's been an emergency. He makes sure information is shared quickly and correctly when preparing for disasters, and in the midst of them.
Buehner is retiring after 40 years with the weather service, and he recently sat down with KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick to reflect on his career and how the organization has changed over four decades.
Changes at NWS: "When I first came on board, we had teletypes. And we had wet fax machines that you would tear off and post on the wall. We plotted everything by hand, and analyzed it by hand. But then things evolved with computer technology, obviously. And you look at forecast accuracy, it's changed dramatically. We might be lucky in 1985 to have a good three-day forecast. Now we can stretch that out closer to seven days with that kind of accuracy."
Interested in weather early on: "As a 6-year-old, I lived through the 1962 Columbus Day Storm in the Portland area. I remember prior to the storm the clouds had kind of a yellowish-green color to them... the storm struck just about sundown. On my street alone, in the west hills of Portland, I had 160 trees down. Power was out for 10 days. As a little guy, it was a pretty frightening experience... but that sparked the question: Why did this happen? By the time I was age 10 I was already starting to do some forecasting."
Sharing his passion about weather: "We all experience weather every day. We use it every day. So right there, I think we all have a keen interest whether we know science or not. My job has been to carry that passion of not only science itself, but obviously in the area of weather. And sharing that weather knowledge so that others can experience it, be more knowledgeable about how to use weather information that'll better their lives."