National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Janae Elkins

Location: Jackson, MS
Office: WFO Jackson
Job Title: Meteorologist
Felecia Bowser

Educational Background:

  • I graduated from Jackson State University with a Bachelor's degree in Meteorology 

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

  • I’ve always been a fan of weather. When I was younger, I would watch the evening news with my grandparents which included the weather forecast. Growing up in Gary, Indiana we got all types of weather so weather never scared me. I knew at six years old that I wanted to be a meteorologist. 

What do you do for the NWS?

  • As a meteorologist, my daily responsibilities include analyzing different meteorological data available from a variety of sources, and analyzing and assessing the current forecast weather situation at both the upper and lower levels of the atmosphere. I utilize the latest forecast technology with AWIPS (Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System), satellites, Doppler Radar, and numerical weather prediction to bring the most accurate and dependable weather information to the public. As a meteorologist at the Weather Forecast Office (WFO) in Jackson, Mississippi, I meet the needs of users in 58 counties and parishes in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana by issuing warnings, and use other communication outlets such as Facebook Live (FB) to provide weather information.

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 impactful event for me thus far has been the April 2020 Easter Tornado outbreak across south Mississippi. I worked the public service desk that day so I took a lot of phone calls, and answered questions on Facebook and Twitter, while also trying to complete normal forecasting duties as this event was unfolding. I also produced FB Live as these monster tornadoes were popping up. There were two big circulations parallel to each other simultaneously. This was a scary moment not only for the public, but also for us meteorologists. After surveying the tornadoes, one turned out to be the widest tornado on record in the state of Mississippi. Seeing how far and wide the damage went was overwhelming. 

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

  • During my time at Jackson State, alumni who worked for NOAA/NWS would come back often and talk to us about the agency, and NWS in particular, so I quickly became interested. I did two internships with NWS which allowed me to gain unique experiences and help me solidify my path to pursue a career with NWS.

What do you like most about working for the NWS?

  • Working with the public. With the COVID-19 pandemic, there hasn’t been physical contact with the public like storm spotter classes and or school talks; however, even in the virtual world it’s nice to feel connected and help educate people on weather/weather safety. 

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

  • Seek mentorship from someone who is employed with NWS. If possible become a (virtual) volunteer with your local WFO office and or find out about Pathways internships. Nowadays a lot of people are on Twitter and Facebook, if you're interested in NWS and in college or even high school, try to follow some mets on social media and ask questions. 

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

  • I would say getting your degree in meteorology is probably one of the hardest disciplines because of the course work. There is a lot of math, physics, and chemistry involved, but that definitely shouldn’t deter one away if they are interested. Also, Emergency Management goes hand in hand with meteorology. Taking a few Disaster Management courses, FEMA trainings, and social science courses will go a long way.