Thursday Dec 08, 2022

Forecasting Weather--Fighting Bureaucracy - Mike Smith

In 1981, Mike Smith founded a private weather forecasting service that soon became computer based in its single location forecast distribution.  He enjoyed strong popularity as a television meteorologist beginning in the 1970's at Channel 4 in Oklahoma City, then Wichita, Kansas, St. Louis and back to Wichita where he started Weatherdata.  

Smith testified, as an expert witness, in a trial following the crash of United Flight 191 at DFW Airport in the 1980's.  The plane flew through a small thunderstorm that produced a strong downburst and pushed the airplane into the ground.  His accounting of the events explaining what happened, and who was at fault, is vivid. 

He also wrote a book on weather warnings and the science of meteorology as it developed during his career.  An excellent read but even better when this animated and excited man tells you what still gets him going every day.  Smith pays tribute to Dr Ted Fujita, calling him the smartest meteorological scientist ever born and crediting Fujita with developing the science of forensic meteorology.

I spoke with Mike Smith in an earlier podcast, with this one focusing on the bureaucratic battles within government agencies and between private sector meteorologists and public sector employees.

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