National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Paul Schlatter

Location: Boulder, Colorado
WFO Boulder
Job Title: Sciences and Operations Officer (SOO)

Educational Background:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Physics from Westmont College
  • Master’s Degree in Meteorology from Oklahoma University

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

  • I started my career with the NWS in Norman, OK at the Warning Decision Training Branch (WDTB). I worked there for eight years as an instructor, specializing in severe weather warnings and radar analysis. In 2011, I moved to the Washington D.C. area to work in the NWS’s front office. After working with the NWS Director, Deputy Director, and the NOAA Administrator as a Program Coordination Officer (PCO), I became the Deputy Chief of Staff and was the Acting Chief of Staff until July 2016.
    My passion has always been for Operational meteorology, and since August 2016 I have been the Science and Operations Officer (SOO) of the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Boulder, CO.

What do you do for the NWS?

  • As the SOO of a Weather Forecast Office co-located with a major NOAA research lab and in the same city as the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), one of my primary roles is to stay engaged with the research community to identity new tools and techniques that could improve our operational products and services.  Another key role is to determine how to best support the forecasters in my office, especially as we navigate all the exciting changes that will be coming in the next several years to evolve the National Weather Service.

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

  • It was the 2011 tornado season--the tornado outbreak across the Southeast U.S. on April 27th, and then the Joplin, MO EF-5 on May 22nd.  In those events, warning meteorologists did an amazing job providing far above average lead time for the tornadoes.  However, the fatalities were staggering despite their fantastic warnings.  These events were the genesis for the "Weather-Ready Nation" goal, which codified the need to improve the way we communicate hazardous information and engage our partners in new ways.

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

  • My father is a retired meteorologist who worked for NOAA for many years.  It was easy for me to develop a passion for the science of meteorology at a very young age as I grew up with round-the-clock access to an expert.  Even from the time I was eight years old, I wanted to be a part of the agency that predicts the weather and saves lives.  The NWS is the only agency I ever want to work for and my career is dedicated to making it second to none.

What do you like most about working for the NWS?

  • I love the fact that the NWS is a science-based service organization.  We use science to predict the weather and deliver services for the protection of lives and property.  We make a difference in people's lives every single day.  I know I am not alone in having a passion for the mission and the fact that I work with like-minded passionate people across the NWS is something I never take for granted.

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

  • Volunteer at a local NWS office and/or apply for student opportunities that come up.  The NWS is looking to hire people that are both experts in meteorology and skilled communicators, so use your passion for meteorology to develop those abilities.

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

  • Be well-rounded.  In addition to being solid in the science of meteorology, branch out into social science, communications, or emergency management.  Don't be afraid to do something outside of your comfort zone or normal routine.