October 31, 2018
Writer: Bryanna Willis
Earlier this month the National Weather Service selected a new Meteorologist-in-Charge for the Pocatello, Idaho, Weather Forecast Office.
Vernon Preston has held several positions including warning and coordination meteorologist and working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration studying greenhouse gases and teaching Doppler Weather Radar Operations.
Preston says he first became interested in weather when as a child his father put him up to a window to see a lightning storm in Georgia.
“As a little kid you are scared of thunder and lighting,” Preston said. “You realize that if you are inside, and in a safe location (it’s ok), so I got interested in that.”
By the time he was in 8th grade, Preston said he knew what he wanted to do.
“I knew that some form of weather would be my passion and calling,” Preston said.
Before he came to Idaho he was in Boulder, Colorado working with NOAA studying greenhouse gases.
“We had 30 sites across the globe that we took air samples from and basically processed that and looked at how over the years those different gases have been changing,” Preston said.
He then moved to Kansas in one of the first places the Doppler Radar had been installed which allowed him to then travel teaching many people about the Doppler Radar.
Doppler Radar can track raindrops, hail or snow and then track where those raindrops are going. This allows the radar to track large storms like tornados, and then warn people of a storm coming.
Other uses for Doppler Radar can include water tracking.
“We can see where the rain has fallen and we can take that information and put it in the computer models and help the water managers see where the heavy rain is,” Preston said. ”They can utilize that information for water planning purposes for our dams and our reservoirs.”
Adding to Preston’s career of weather reports and research he has also dabbled in storm chasing while in Kansas and Oklahoma.
During one storm he was chasing in Wichita, Kansas, he was pulled off to the side of the road to take pictures and he noticed all the other cars passing.
“I realized there was so many vehicles chasing the storm that it became kind of a hazard and I was very fortunate that I did because later that thunderstorm storm northeast of Wichita started putting down softball sized hail,” he said.
Adding to his list of experiances Preston has also written a book titled, “The Weather water and Climate of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.”