A new top meteorologist joined the Twin Cities National Weather Service in Chanhassen last June.
Meteorologist in Charge Dan Hawblitzel joined the Twin Cities NWS during a year of historical weather. When he started, the state was experiencing a severe drought, which quickly changed into the winter season, he said. Then came the tornadoes that touched down in December.
The weather always keeps you on your toes, Hawblitzel said.
“You might be dealing with tornadoes one day and a snowstorm the next week and flooding the week after that or you might be dealing with all three of them on the exact same day. You just never know,” Hawblitzel said.
Hawblitzel comes 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 a little bit 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. While Nashville was a great area, there’s really no better place to experience all four seasons than in Minnesota, he said.
The Twin Cities NWS has a staff of about 25 people in the Weather Forecast Office. The office works alongside the North Central River Forecast Center. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) employees also work out of the same building in Chanhassen.
The forecast office is tasked with issuing seven-day forecasts. The forecasts take a variety of forms, such as being directed specifically for local airports or for social media. The office ramps up its normal operations if there is hazardous weather.
What first excited Hawblitzel about his job was the weather. Now what motivates him are his coworkers and the residents that the NWS serves.
“My dedication to my job is the people, because it’s our people at the office that help make a difference in the community,” Hawblitzel said. “I’m honored to help be a part of that.”
According to Hawblitzel, one of the biggest challenges is dealing with the unpredictability of weather. However, meteorologists have come leaps and bounds in how they’re able to communicate and predict weather, he said.
While weather will never be a perfect science, meteorologists aim to communicate clearly what they do and don’t know, Hawblitzel said. That way the community can put a plan in place to stay safe, he added.
“Weather will always be weather and will never be perfect,” Hawblitzel said.
Hawblitzel emphasized that just because someone doesn’t experience a certain type of expected weather, doesn’t mean that someone nearby didn’t experience it. While many were fortunate to not experience the severe Dec. 15 storms, many communities were not so lucky, he said.
“It’s never going to happen to everybody, and so just being able to communicate that something bad is possible, it doesn’t necessarily mean … it will directly impact you,” Hawblitzel said.
One of the biggest lessons Hawblitzel has learned over his career is that one will never outsmart weather, and that’s why it’s important to be prepared.
Warning Coordination Meteorologist Todd Krause is one of the assistant managers who works with Hawblitzel.
Since he started in June, Hawblitzel has shown a strong passion and vision to bring the latest research to operations, Krause said. He is also dedicated to improving ways of communicating forecasts, warnings and safety information to safety partners and the public.
According to Krause, Hawblitzel has brought valuable experience from his previous NWS roles. That experience is beneficial to any office and will be key as the NWS works toward helping the country become a more weather ready nation, he said.
“It has been a pleasure getting to know Dan and we are grateful that he is now at NWS Chanhassen,” Krause said.