National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

On Saturday, August 17, 2019, we received the terribly sad news that our coworker Amy Seeley had passed away due to complications from a stroke.  Amy was part of our National Weather Service family for almost 30 years with nearly all of that time spent in the Chicago office. Given that she was such an important part of this office for so long, we want to share a few words about the many roles she served and why she will be dearly missed.


Amy teaching a child about a weather radio


Amy began her work with the NWS in the early 90s as a student trainee while still attending Northern Illinois University.  She learned to take observations, maintain weather instruments, collect climate information, and write public, aviation, and marine forecasts.  She also enjoyed helping the public as well as members of the media with any weather-related questions.


Amy visiting a Cooperative Observer site with a coworker

Over the years, Amy honed these skills and received multiple promotions, most recently to our Observing Program Leader (OPL) responsible for collection and quality control of weather observations across the 23 counties served by the Chicago office.  This included managing a wide network of volunteer Cooperative Observers and supporting the CoCoRaHS network. If you ever were a volunteer weather observer for NWS Chicago, you likely talked with and were visited by Amy. She was devoted to our observers, always eager to visit them to ensure their equipment was in working order so their important data made it into the climate record. She simply loved hearing from our observers and learning about them.

Amy with CoCoRaHS managers


Amy was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard AuxiliaryAmy presenting a Voluntary Ship Observer award on the Joseph L Block

If you are a boater in the area and ever took a safety class, there is a good chance Amy was your instructor at some point.  She regularly gave presentations to groups such as the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Power Squadron, International Shipmasters Association, Great Lakes Captains Association, and various yacht clubs.  She was a member of several of these organizations.


Amy after receiving a national Cline Award

For 15 years she served as the NWS Port Meteorological Officer for the Great Lakes. In this role she installed and maintained weather equipment on ships, then trained crews how to submit observations to improve marine forecasts and help keep boaters safe.  In 2007 Amy received a prestigious national Cline Award for aggressive outreach to significantly increase the number of ships on the Great Lakes involved in the Voluntary Observing Ship (VOS) program that resulted in an increase of ship visitations by over 300 percent and the number of actual observations recorded on the open waters by over 40 percent.  For over 20 years she managed our office’s booth at the Chicago Boat, Sports, and RV Show.

Amy being interviewed about the importance of NWS weather radios

If you ever visited a booth at a local grocery store or pharmacy to purchase a weather radio, there is a good chance Amy was there to teach you how to program it.  She greatly enjoyed helping people be prepared to receive life-saving information from the NWS.


Amy with Tom Skilling at a weather radio event

If you ever called the office with a question about the forecast, a recent weather event, a climate statistic, or any topic, there is a good chance Amy was the person who assisted you.  It was nearly impossible for another staff member to grab the phone before she did, and it was her personal mission to make sure each caller received prompt and enthusiastic attention.


If you ever visited our website, you have directly interacted with Amy’s work.  For years she served as our webmaster to make sure information was as readily available and well organized as possible -- not an easy task!


Amy helping organize an office potluckAmy helping at a retirement party

If you ever worked in our office and had a special event to celebrate, an illness to fight, or a loss to mourn, it is likely Amy was the one who helped organize the cake, card, flowers, or party.  If she heard your child was selling something, she was the first to make a purchase. She enthusiastically recruited our office team for the Lewis University Plane Pull to benefit Special Olympics. She also was the one who kept our water cooler full and pop fridge stocked, and who paid for our satellite radio subscription to keep the music flowing day and night.  She was known by friends, family, and coworkers to be generous to a fault.


NWS Chicago team at the Lewis University Plane Pull for Special Olympics


When winter storms or severe weather threatened, Amy was always available to arrive early or stay late to make sure we were providing the best service possible.  On multiple occasions she rented a room at a nearby hotel to make sure she was available for her shift no matter what the weather conditions were.


Amy and the women of NWS Chicago celebrating women in STEM careers

All these things are just a small part of what Amy did for the office and the people it serves. Over the years she received many awards and recognitions for this work, and these were well deserved.  But the reason she will be dearly missed is because she was such a good friend to so many of us. We felt it appropriate to share some of what she meant to us professionally, but what she meant to us personally would be much harder to put into words.


Rest in peace, Amy.