National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Cynthia Palmer

Location: Monterey, CA 
WFO Bay Area / Monterey Bay
Job Title: Meteorologist in Charge

Educational Background:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Atmospheric Science from the University of California, Davis
  • Graduate courses in Meteorology from the University of Hawaii, Manoa

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

  • I started as a hydrometeorological technician (HMT) with the Navy at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, while in graduate school. From there, I joined the NWS as a General Forecaster at the office in Pendleton, OR and later lateraled to the office in Sacramento, CA. Next, I was promoted to a Lead Forecaster job at the San Diego, CA office and then moved to the WFO in Shreveport to take the Science and Operations Officer (SOO) job.

What do you do for the NWS?

  • While I was a SOO, my focus was primarily on training, the support of operations, and research to operations. As the MIC, my primary responsibilities are now supervising the staff and making sure the administrative needs of the office are met. That said, I still consider a huge part of my job is staff development, advocating on their behalf, and making sure that their needs are met.

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

  • Our most recent heavy rain/flash flood event in Shreveport stands out because the 4-day rainfall totals ranged between 10-20 inches, with local amounts up to 28 inches. We initially issued several flash flood warnings, which were quickly upgraded to flash flood emergencies. Numerous swift water rescues occurred. Levees topped or breached. Roads washed out and interstates were closed. Thousands of homes and businesses flooded and schools were shut down. Two weeks later, the water is still slowly receding.

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

  • I love the weather, and I knew in college that I wanted to be a forecaster. Although I could have stayed with the military or gone the private industry route, I preferred the security that the NWS offered me.

What do you like most about working for the NWS?

  • The people. The NWS has one of the most dedicated staffs you will ever meet.

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

  • Volunteer at an NWS office. I think this is the best way to discover if the NWS is for you.

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

  • Math and physics are the two biggest things that come to mind, but I also think coursework in emergency management, computer programming, and hydrology are very useful.