National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Lisa Kriederman

Location: Boulder, CO
Denver/Boulder Weather Forecast Office (WFO)
Job Title: Incident Meteorologist (IMET)

Educational Background:

  • Bachelor's Degree in Atmospheric Science from University of Arizona

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

  • My NWS career began while attending the University of Arizona as a SCEP student in the Tucson WFO, which had a great fire weather program. After my meteorologist internship at the Honolulu WFO, I was able to resume training as an Incident Meteorologist (IMET) when I got a forecaster position at the Anchorage WFO, which has a very unique fire season, fuels, and program. When the IMET position opened back in my home state of Colorado, I was excited to jump at the chance.

What do you do for the NWS?

  • An IMET position requires an additional 250+ hours of extra training in microscale and complex terrain meteorology, communications, the National Incident Management System (NIMS), equipment, fire behavior, fuels and all-hazards support. I am one of around 85 trained IMETs across the country who keep their portable equipment and camping bags packed, ready to be dispatched within 24 hours to an incident as the onsite weather expert for incident management teams, working up to 14 long-hour days.

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

  • As an IMET on the 2013 Waldo Canyon wildfire near Colorado Springs, the importance and strength of good communication with the local forecast office became very apparent on the day the fire spread into the city. I had radar data latency issues that day, and as the fire grew into a large and dangerous column, the Pueblo WFO was great in making sure my data was current or letting me know what was occurring if it wasn’t. They helped keep firefighter safety my number one priority.

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

  • At the age of three, I gave a blood curdling scream as I saw my backyard trees falling toward me. My mother explained to me that it was the clouds moving away that made it look like the trees were falling. Ever since, my eye has been on the sky. I decided to pursue a career with the NWS when I discovered how many offices there were across the nation and its territories, attracting my love of travel and desire to live and experience different places, cultures and of course weather regimes.

What do you like most about working for the NWS?

  • I love providing an important public service, to keep our communities up-to-date and safe from dangerous weather. I also love being a part of a team, both in the office as well as a whole in the NWS across the nation. Working in four different offices across four different regions has allowed me to experience several climate regimes, learn a lot about the organization and obtain an amazing “seven degrees of separation” from almost anyone in the NWS!

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

  • If you're interested in forecasting, try to volunteer at a nearby office to begin to understand the organization, the duties and the shift work required. If you don't have a local office nearby, call the closest one and talk with several members of the staff. Understand the wide variety of ways weather affects the nation, both in people's day-to-day lives as well as in commerce. Also, looking from the outside, think of how you'd like the NWS to evolve and keep that in mind for interviews.

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

  • Besides being very proficient in math and physics, a skill that's becoming more and more important is in communications.We can produce a fantastic forecast, but how it is relayed to the public is just as important. Scientists can get stuck using technical terms that won't make sense to the general public - our number one customer who pays our salaries to keep them safe!