National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Kati R. McNeil
Kati R. McNeil

Location: Memphis, TN
Memphis Weather Forecast Office (WFO)
Job Title: Forecaster


Kati R. McNeil is a general forecaster with the National Weather Service in Memphis, Tennessee. As a forecaster, Kati is responsible for issuing timely forecasts and warnings for 57 counties in the Memphis area including West Tennessee, Eastern Arkansas, North Mississippi and the Missouri Bootheel. In addition, she provides aviation forecasts for four airports including Memphis International Airport, the second busiest cargo hub in the world. As part of being a forecaster, Kati works rotating shifts which includes many weekends and holidays.


Kati’s passion for weather came from an early age. One of her earliest memories was when an F-3 tornado touched down 4 miles from her house destroying a couple of family friend’s homes when she was 4 years old. Most children would have been frightened from the experience, but not Kati. She fell in love with watching storms and would make frequent trips to the front porch to watch storms approaching. Thunderstorms were not the only type of weather that Kati enjoyed. As many kids do, she also loved snowstorms which brought no school and a chance for sledding and building a snowman. Weather was always a topic of conversation in Kati’s family as she grew up on her grandparent’s farm outside of St. Louis, Missouri. Although, it wasn’t until seventh grade after hearing a speech from the school guidance counselor about careers and college that Kati decided to become a meteorologist. The suggestion actually came from her mother as she recognized her fondness for weather. From that point on, every classmate and teacher, knew Kati was determined to obtain her goal of becoming a meteorologist.

After high school, Kati attended Saint Louis University and majored in meteorology. She worked various part-time jobs (full-time during the summer) to pay her way through school. It was during a day off from her job as a bank teller during the summer between her sophomore and junior years of college, that Kati received a phone call that would change her life forever. Her professor, the late Dr. James Moore, called her informing her that the National Weather Service in St. Louis was looking for a student to participate in the Student Career Experience Program. He told her that he had nominated her and regardless of what meteorology career path she was on that she shouldn’t pass up this opportunity. She didn’t and started with the National Weather Service in St. Louis on August 23rd, 1999. She gained so much experience and had so much fun in those last two years of college working alongside the forecasters at the National Weather Service in St. Louis in between taking classes that she knew she had chosen the right career path. In May of 2001, Kati graduated from Saint Louis University becoming the first member of her entire family to graduate college.

After graduation, Kati transferred to the National Weather Service in Key West, Florida and worked 15 months as a meteorological intern.  Her primary job was releasing weather balloons. She also learned about tropical meteorology, weather she did not get to experience first-hand growing up in Missouri. In September 2002, she was promoted to a general forecaster in Memphis, Tennessee. She has spent the last 15 years issuing numerous tornado, severe thunderstorm, and winter storm warnings for the area. Several events stick out in her mind including the F-4 Jackson, TN tornado that occurred on May 4th, 2003, the F-3 Marmaduke, AR to Newbern, TN tornado that occurred on April 2nd, 2006, and more recently the EF-5 Smithville, MS tornado that occurred on April 25th, 2011.

Weather ended up being a major part of Kati’s family. In 2005, Kati married a lead forecaster, who also works at the National Weather Service in Memphis. Together, they have three sons ages 9, 7, and 5. While many see the hardships with rotating shift work, Kati sees many positives. She views the shift work as allowing her to partake in many of the kid’s school activities such as field trips and local mom groups that are typically available to stay at home parents. In her spare time, Kati is an avid runner. She has completed three marathons and numerous other races including half marathons and 5Ks. She also enjoys researching her family tree and travelling.  In her 18 years with the National Weather Service, if Kati could change one thing, it would be to bring an increase in women to the agency. Kati is a proud member of the Gender Mainstreaming Working Group, a team within the National Weather Service, whose goal is to promote, encourage, and facilitate gender equality within the National Weather Service. Kati hopes to encourage young girls into the field of meteorology.