"The Forecast Wasn't Wrong, The Weather Just Didn't Cooperate."
January 19, 2011 6:32 PM
Our meteorologists here at KDLT present their forecast to you every day. But each time you hear them talking about a watch or a warning, there is an entire network of meteorologists involved. Greg Harmon, Meteorologist in Charge at the Sioux Falls National Weather Service, is this week's Someone You Should Know.
Every time a siren sounds in the KDLT Weather Center, the National Weather Service has issued a warning on impending weather. "As an on-air meteorologists, it's our duty to inform the viewer of these weather alerts. But we can't officially issue them ourselves," said KDLT Chief Meteorologist Cody Matz.
That's where Greg Harmon and his team come in. He's in charge of the National Weather Service office in Sioux Falls. "He runs the show." said Hydrologist Mike Gillispie. Harmon's been running the show in Sioux Falls for 20 years, but he's originally from the the West Coast. "We typically don't have big severe tornado type weather events, but that kind of challenge is part of what drew me to this part of the country where the day in and day out weather challenges we have in the Northern Plains" said Greg Harmon.
During his time here, he led the modernization of the Weather Service by assessing where current Doppler radar sites needed to be. "Greg is one who is always thinking ahead. We never try and stay in pat here and say what were doing is good enough," said Science Operations Officer Phil Schumacher.
In the 1990s, only a quarter of South Dakotans had access to weather radio information. "Weather radios are invaluable, they inform you of any kind of impending weather. That way you're not relying solely on tornado sirens," said Cody Matz.
In 1998, Spencer, SD could not receive a weather radio signal. In the aftermath of the F4 tornado, Greg Harmon partnered with Senator Tim Johnson to increase weather radio coverage. "I realized the value, the importance that people place on the warning services out of the office here," said Greg Harmon.
Today, more than 95 percent of South Dakota's population has access to this alarm system. "He's always wanted to make things better, always want to make sure things are improved, he's never settled for good enough for government work, it's above and beyond that," said Information Technology Officer Bryan Ruby.
But after 37 years with the National Weather Service, Greg is stepping down. "I do think that its time for new ideas to come into the office in the leadership position, some new energy at this position. Its probably time for a change and not only for myself but for the office," said Harmon.
"He deserves this, he's had a great run," said Administrative Assistant Dianne Rinehart.
"He's been so influential in South Dakota that January 17th, 2011 was even declared Greg Harmon Day," said Cody Matz.
"Even though he may not be here, his legacy will live on, through all of the things that he has provided to us, as forecasters as citizens," said Warning Coordination Meteorologist Todd Heitkamp.
Minnesota native Lisa Schmit will take over for Greg Harmon in March as the meteorologist in charge of the Sioux Falls National Weather Service.
For more on the NWS, go to their website