National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
 
Tanja Fransen

Location: Glasgow, MT
Office: 
Glasgow Weather Forecast Office (WFO)
Job Title: Meteorologist-in-Charge (MIC)


Educational Background:

  • Bachelor's Degree in Earth Sciences: Meteorology from the University of Northern Colorado

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

  • I started as a student intern at the NWS Weather Forecast Office in Cheyenne, WY and spent a summer and a fall semester working for them. After graduating, I worked at two Weather Service Offices (WSOs) and then the Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) in Bismarck, ND and Rapid City, SD. I eventually was promoted to the Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM) position in Glasgow, MT and more recently became the MIC at the office.
  • Moving a lot brought me opportunities to learn new things (i.e. being a webmaster, storm Data and Verification programs, outreach, etc.) and gave me the chance to learn from some great people.

What do you do for the NWS?

  • As the WCM my role was to foster great partnerships with our partners and the public. Now, as the MIC, I supervise our staff, but my main focus is on developing our staff to reach their goals and help them implement their ideas. That is done by providing resources they may need, connecting them with people who are doing things they are interested in, and giving them opportunities to shine. I also do a lot of administrative actions for the entire office.

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

  • We set some outrageous snowfall records during the winter of 2010-11. Normal snowfall is around 30 inches and we had over 40 inches in January alone. We ended up with 108.6 inches of snow that season and then had record rainfall in May. We knew flooding was going to be a problem in January, and we started briefing our partners and then then public. We were on high-alert with outreach, services to partners, and issuing winter weather & flood products for eight months. I was so proud of our staff from start to finish.

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

  • I grew up in Colorado and we could see really rapid changes in weather, all in one day. The Limon, CO F3 tornado hit the summer before my senior year in High School and the destruction from it was pretty amazing for me to see. I had always liked and done well in science in school and decided that was the route for my future.

What do you like most about working for the NWS?

  • The People! From the talent of our staff, to those of our neighboring offices (and all of them really), to the great partners we get to work with and learn from, that is what I most love about the job. It makes me happy to know we've done a great job with a significant weather event, whether it's severe thunderstorms, flooding, winter weather or supporting a non-weather event such as a hazmat spill or wildfire. Our mission of protecting life and property is one I am very proud of.

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

  • Be active in college in your field Join the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and/or National Weather Association (NWA) and be part of their local chapters. Go to and present at conferences. Make your campus StormReady if it isn't already. Have your chapter/campus become a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador and then do activities with it! Volunteer at TV stations, NWS offices, and Emergency Management offices. There are a lot of people applying for NWS jobs, but you have to stand out from them all. It's not all about a 4.0, it's about how you can take the initiative and lead. Learn to say “yes” as you never know what opportunities will await you when you do. :)

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

  • The college course requirements for meteorology are important, but don't forget courses such as communication, business management and leadership. Branch out into things such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), multimedia production, and other classes to separate yourself from the rest of the crowd.