April 28, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Alumni News | Lewis’ Forecasts Help Pilots, Forest Firefighters, Communities

Simone Lewis. right, at a Meteorological Symposium.

Simone Lewis. right, at a Meteorological Symposium.

Ohio University meteorology alum Simone Lewis ’03 is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, and her weather forecasts help pilots at multiple airports across the country make flying decisions.

Lewis earned a degree in Geography-Meteorology, along with minors in Physics and Mathematics, from the College of Arts & Sciences. After graduate school at Ball State University, she returned to Ohio University in 2006 and earned a bachelor’s degree in Physics.

Her main job is to produce the seven-day forecasts for Charleston, WV, and the aviation forecast for multiple airports across the country.

“The aviation forecast is used for pilots to make decisions concerning whether or not they need to plan for an alternate airport to land at, if conditions are safe enough to land or take off in, if convection is a possibility, if they need to worry about carrying extra fuel, etc.,” Lewis says.

She also does a variety of other things with community outreach, such as training the public to become certified storm spotters and educating emergency managers on weather hazards and warning criteria.

Teaching the Forest Firefighters

Looking back on her years at Ohio University, Lewis recalls a few courses that were exceptionally helpful getting her to where she is now, those being her observation and weather forecasting courses. Learning the basic meteorology principles and how to properly take weather observations is just part of the foundation that fostered her passion for her field of study. Dr. Ron Isaac was the only meteorology professor when she was at OHIO, which means he had a great role in preparing her for her future career.

Although Lewis has built her career in forecasting, she takes her passion a step farther and shares her knowledge by teaching others about meteorology.

“I train staff on how to recognize fire weather patterns and issue accurate fire weather forecasts. I have also taught basic weather courses to the National Park Service and forest firefighters for the park service so they know how to interpret fire weather forecasts and recognize weather phenomena out in the field that may pose a hazard to fire fighting operations.”

That ‘Pinch Me’ Moment

Lewis’s most memorable experience since she began her career at NWS, she says, is when she became an incident meteorologist.

I used to spend several weeks at a time working on forest fires, providing forecasts, briefings on the expected weather, and sending out alerts when I noticed hazardous weather developing that might affect firefighter safety.”

Lewis is grateful for her degrees in the College of Arts & Sciences for many reasons and encourages people to explore their options in this field.

Having an education in arts and sciences, I can qualify for employment in a variety of areas and sciences other than meteorology, as I have a wide array of coursework under my belt from math, to physics, to geology, GIS, etc.”

PrOUd Bobcat

She is very proud of her alma mater and loved her experience here. She appreciated the closeness between her friends within the major because there were only a total of eight people in the meteorology program, which also gave her a closer relationship with her professors. Though the program has grown since then, she cherishes the long hours spent in the Scalia Lab, studying and attending hockey games with her friends. OHIO as a whole felt like a tight-knit community to Lewis, and she loves that she got to experience a college-like atmosphere.

I think this is something that seems to be disappearing from a lot of college campuses as more and more students opt for commuting or internet classes, or attend larger universities where not being able to live very close to campus or having to commute in to campus is making it so they are spending less time on campus.”

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