National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Isha M. Renta

Location: Sterling, VA
Baltimore/Washington Weather Forecast Office (WFO)
Job Title: Meteorologist

Educational Background

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez
  • Master’s Degree in Atmospheric Science from Howard University
  • Graduate courses in Atmospheric Science from the University of Maryland, College Park

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

  • I began my professional career at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD). Before working at NSWCDD, I was a Graduate Research Fellow at Howard University and I interned at various organizations including the National Science Foundation, the NWS's Baltimore/Washington WFO, NOAA's Hurricane Research Division, and NOAA's Environmental Modeling Center.

What do you do for the NWS?

  • I launch weather balloons, quality control various datasets, verify that products are sent to the NOAA Weather Radio and phone recordings, provide public service and outreach, interpret and analyze model and other data sets, prepare various hydrometeorological observations and products, prepare long-term forecasts and discussions, and assist with warning products for distribution to customers and other users.

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

  • It has to be the Blizzard of 2016! It was such an impactful event that it gave me a different perspective of the NWS's mission. I gave weather briefings to emergency managers and to the public. I also gave multiple TV and radio interviews, including some to international and Spanish media. The need to pay attention to details during a stressful situation as well as seeing how hard people were working and how committed they all are confirmed to me that I am in the right place.

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

  • I knew I wanted to be a meteorologist when I was eight years old. The only meteorologists I knew while I was growing up were the ones who worked at the NWS’s San Juan WFO, so I knew I wanted to work for the NWS as a meteorologist. Having the multiple internship experiences within NOAA reconfirmed that goal.

What do you like most about working for the NWS?

  • I really enjoy supporting people outside of the office with information by briefing the public, emergency managers, decision makers, other government offices, and the media about the weather and how it is going to impact them. That is when I see how valuable our job is and that many people depend on and trust our work.

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

  • Visit an NWS office and try to get experience through an internship. Always be on the look-out for openings and apply to all of them. It is a good idea to be willing to move, especially to start a career and get into the NWS. If you get a job outside of the NWS, view that experience as a stepping stone to getting in. There are many ways to get into the NWS, so stay focused on your goal.

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

  • Focus on science and math while you are still in high school because these courses are very important once you get to college. Once you are in college, pursue a degree in meteorology or any of the STEM fields. Make sure to take physics, calculus, and differential equations. Take the time to ask questions and clarify doubts to make sure you maintain good grades. If possible, get an internship experience.