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SKYWARN Pioneer Alan R. Moller, N5ZCB, SK

06/24/2014

National Weather Service forecaster, storm chaser, and SKYWARN pioneer Alan “Al” Moller, N5ZCB, of Benbrook, Texas, died June 19. He was 64. Moller and Chuck Doswell were the primary contributors to the development of the national SKYWARN program.

Moller was a Senior Forecaster (retired) at the National Weather Service Fort Worth, Texas, Office, where, the NWS said, he “tirelessly worked to better understand thunderstorms and tornadoes, while at the same time teaching others to responsibly observe and report storm information from the field. He was a voice and a bridge between operational and research meteorology, and thus, was respected by both of these meteorological disciplines.”

He also was a writer and cinematographer, known for StormWatch (1995), Tornadoes: A Spotter's Guide (1977), and Chasing the Wind (1991). In addition, Moller enjoyed nature and landscape photography.

Moller held bachelor’s and master’s degrees in meteorology from The University of Oklahoma. Doswell, a friend and colleague Moller met at the University of Oklahoma, described Moller as passionate about public service as well as about forecasting and severe storms.

“He was profoundly committed to that, doing spotter training talks all over North Texas and elsewhere — the best spotter training anyone could have asked for, dispensed with his unique style and panache.” Doswell said Moller “cared about people — all people — and did whatever it took to help them, if they needed something.”

According to his Dallas Morning News obituary, Doswell and Moller started a storm-chaser program in 1972, theorizing that weather observations from the field could help forecasters. This established the groundwork for SKYWARN, a volunteer program with nearly 290,000 trained severe-weather spotters, many of them Amateur Radio licensees, who work with NWS forecasters by providing real-time observations.

“Moller taught volunteers how to call in observations and the Weather Service employees to work with the observers,” the newspaper article said. “Throughout his career, Moller trained thousands of storm spotters — on duty and in his spare time — and organized them into a reporting network.”

Storm Prediction Center forecaster Roger Edwards said, “Al’s unrestrained love for severe storms, his similarly unbridled candor, his outstanding analytic skill, and his deep devotion to science in forecasting, each impressed me a great deal from the start.”

Memorials may be made to the Humane Society of North Texas, 1840 E Lancaster Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76103. — Thanks to Sam Barricklow, K5KJ

 

 



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