A new top meteorologist joined the National Twin Cities Weather Service in Chanhassen last June.
Lead meteorologist Dan Hawblitzel joined the Twin Cities NWS during a year of historic weather. When it started, the state was experiencing a severe drought, which quickly turned into a winter season, he said. Then came the tornadoes that hit in December.
The weather always keeps you on your toes, Hawblitzel said.
“You could be dealing with tornadoes one day and a snowstorm the next week and flooding the next week or you could be dealing with all three on the same day. You never know,” Hawblitzel said.
Hawblitzel is from Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri in 2002 with a degree in atmospheric science and from Texas A&M University in 2005 with a master’s degree, also in atmospheric science.
For his first job, Hawblitzel worked at the NWS in Wilmington, Ohio. The office covers Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati and parts of Indiana and Kentucky. He then worked at the NWS office in Kansas City. Before coming to Minnesota, he worked at the NWS in Nashville, Tennessee.
Hawblitzel wanted to come to Minnesota because he was born and raised in the Midwest. Although Nashville is a great area, there really is no better place to experience all four seasons than Minnesota, he said.
The Twin Cities NWS has a staff of approximately 25 people in the weather forecast office. The office works adjacent to the North Central River Forecast Center. Employees of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also work in the same building in Chanhassen.
The forecast office is responsible for issuing seven-day forecasts. Forecasts take various forms, such as being directed specifically for local airports or for social media. The office is accelerating its normal operations in the event of hazardous weather conditions.
What first excited Hawblitzel about his work was the weather. Now what drives him are his colleagues and the residents the NWS serves.
“My dedication to my job is people, because it’s our people in the office who help make a difference in the community,” Hawblitzel said. “I’m honored to help be a part of it.”
According to Hawblitzel, one of the biggest challenges is dealing with the unpredictability of weather conditions. However, meteorologists have made giant strides in how they are able to communicate and predict the weather, he said.
Although weather is never a perfect science, meteorologists aim to clearly communicate what they know and what they don’t know, Hawblitzel said. That way, the community can put a plan in place to stay safe, he added.
“The weather will always be the weather and will never be perfect,” Hawblitzel said.
Hawblitzel pointed out that just because someone doesn’t know a certain type of predicted weather doesn’t mean someone nearby hasn’t. While many were lucky not to experience the severe storms of December 15, many communities were not so lucky, he said.
“It’s never going to happen to everyone, and so just being able to communicate that something bad is possible doesn’t necessarily mean … it will affect you directly,” Hawblitzel said.
One of the biggest lessons Hawblitzel has learned in his career is that you can never outsmart the weather, and that’s why it’s important to be prepared.
Todd Krause, meteorologist in charge of warning coordination, is one of the assistant directors who works with Hawblitzel.
Since starting in June, Hawblitzel has shown strong passion and vision for bringing the latest research to operations, Krause said. It is also dedicated to improving the means to communicate forecasts, warnings and safety information to safety partners and the public.
According to Krause, Hawblitzel brought valuable experience from his previous roles in the NWS. This experience is beneficial to any office and will be essential as the NWS strives to help the country become a more weather-resilient nation, he said.
“It was a pleasure to know Dan and we are grateful that he is now at NWS Chanhassen,” said Krause.