National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Alana McCants

Location: Fort Worth, TX
National Weather Service West Gulf River Forecast Center
Job Title: Meteorologist
Alana McCants

Educational Background:

  • B.S. from Jackson State University in Meteorology
  • M.S. from Mississippi State University in Geoscience

Describe the career path that led you to your current job with the National Weather Service.

  • After completing my meteorology degree, I started volunteering at the NWS office in Mobile, AL and shortly after that I was accepted as a SCEP student at the NWS office in Jackson, MS. In 2001, I was hired on as a Hydrologic Forecaster (Hydrologist) at the West Gulf River Forecast Center and served in that position for 7 years before transferring over to a Hydrometeorological Analysis and Support (HAS) Forecaster (Meteorologist), which is the position that I am currently in.

What do you do for the NWS?

  • As a Hydrometeorological Analysis and Support (HAS) forecaster at the West River Forecast Center, my duties include quality controlling the past and present precipitation across a 4 state forecast area. In addition, I am also responsible for forecasting future precipitation for a 5 day period, and then taking that information and including it in our river forecast model for the purpose of issuing daily and flood forecasts.

What was the most interesting, exciting, or impactful weather/water event you experienced while working for the NWS and why does it stand out?

  • The most interesting event I experienced while working for the NWS, was a series of heavy rainfall events back in the summer of 2007. Typically, summers in Texas are very hot and dry. And here at my office we are only open 16-hour days. During the summer of 2007, we had one of the wettest summers in Texas, which caused massive flooding all across the state and as a result of this impact, our office was open 24 hours for 3 months straight.

What made you decide to pursue a career with the NWS?

  • I was born and raised in Mobile, AL where we were always at the center of hurricane threats. When I was 4 years old, Hurricane Frederic made a direct hit to our city. This had a major impact on me even as a kid, mainly because I remember how scared I was, just looking at how strong the winds were and and the destruction that it left. From that point, I became more curious about the storms and wanted to study them more.

What do you like most about working for the NWS?

  • Probably what I like the most about working for the NWS is that no event is the same. You may recognize the same weather pattern that could bring severe weather or heavy rainfall to an area, however forecasting these events are sometimes difficult because there is always one piece of the puzzle that needs to be figured out. This always makes forecasting interesting and challenging.

What advice do you have for someone interested in a career with the NWS?

  • Volunteering a few hours a week at a NWS office is very helpful. Not only does it help you get your foot in the door it also helps you become more knowledgeable about what meteorology is all about.

What training or coursework would you recommend to someone interested in following your career path?

  • Take lots of Math, Science and Computer Science courses, even more than what is recommended by your school.