National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Stephanie Sipprell

Location: Kansas City, MO
Central Region Headquarters / Regional Operations Center
Job Title: Emergency Response Specialist
Stephanie Sipprell
Stephanie Sipprell
Stephanie Sipprell

Educational Background:

  • Bachelor's Degree in Meteorology at Valparaiso University

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

  • I knew early on that metrology was my calling, so I began my career path as a volunteer at the Louisville, KY forecast office. As a volunteer I worked 40 hours a week during the summer without pay. My dedication paid off and I was fortunate to receive a SCEP position (now Pathway) and worked at the Northern Indiana and the Chicago forecast offices while still in college. After school, I started full time at the Wichita KS forecast office. Wanting to explore my meteorological knowledge outside of the Midwest, I became a forecaster at the Boston, MA forecast office. The IDSS and experiences in the Northeast were great and led me to my current position as an Emergency Response Specialist at the Central Region Headquarters.

What do you do for the NWS?

  • I am currently an Emergency Response Specialist at the Regional Operations Center within Central Region Headquarters in Kansas City, MO. Our main mission entails operational and logistical field office support, regional and state level partner weather/water/climate IDSS, coordination of IDSS during high impact events within the region and we report significant events and DSS to NOAA/NWS leadership. I am also the FEMA 5 liaison and help with briefings, exercise planning and sit on several teams that are FEMA led.

    Because the Central Region ROC is within the Integrated Services Division, I also have a few program area responsibilities. Within the Central Region I am the winter program co-lead and the Central Region Headquarters representative on the Winter Service Program team. In this role, I help provide guidance and input on the direction that the Winter program should take that is best for the Central Region. I am also the Pathfinder/Surface transportation lead, and focus on Ecological Forecast including Harmful Algal Blooms and Nutrient Runoff.

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

  • April 15th, 2013 is a day I personally will never forget. As a forecaster at the Boston, MA forecast office, I was the on-site meteorologist at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) for the Boston Marathon. Unfortunately, a terrorist attack occurred near the finish line when two bombs exploded. Not knowing a lot of details, I immediately ran the HYSPLIT model and issued a spot forecast in the event that dirty bombs were used. I then quickly switched gears to help MEMA by following their informational feeds for them.

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

  • I knew I wanted to be a meteorologist since I was 6 years old. From there it was all about finding what worked best for me. After volunteering at the Louisville, KY WFO the Warning Coordination Meteorologist position was right up my alley and it is something I am setting my sights on in the future.

What do you like most about working for the NWS?

  • My job literally changes day to day. One day I am working on program duties helping shape the future of the Weather Service, another day I am troubleshooting IT issues for Central Region offices, or I could be deployed to FEMA’s Regional Response Coordination Center for a variety of weather hazards. This role keeps me on my toes and allows me to apply my strengths and work on different skill sets.

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

  • Set yourself apart. You need to think outside the box on how you are going to rise to the top compared to other applicants. Also be willing to move around. This job has allowed me to work with a variety of customers (farmers to metropolitans), landscapes (Central Plains to the Ocean), and weather phenomena (Tornadoes, Hurricanes and Nor'easters). Be willing to keep learning.

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

  • Aside from science and math, I recommend communication classes. In this job, you have to find a way to communicate upcoming hazards to the public and your partners. GIS and computer science are also great classes to take for the NWS.