National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

John Jensenius Lightning Safety Specialist 
National Weather Service Retired


Efforts in Lightning Safety Education

John was NOAA's specialist on lightning safety and served as a national spokesperson for the organization on issues related to lightning and lightning safety. He developed a considerable amount of educational material on lightning, and started tracking and documenting lightning fatalities nationwide. John worked with numerous organizations, such as Little League Baseball, to promote lightning safety among their participants. In addition to numerous non-technical talks, interviews, and television and radio shows concerning lightning and lightning safety, John has made live appearances on network shows such as the Today Show and the CBS Early Show and has also appeared as a lightning expert on special programs related to lightning including several aired on The Weather Channel. In 2001, John initiated the first "national Lightning Safety Awareness Week," an effort that has continued to grow since its inception. For his work in lightning safety education, John was honored with the National Weather Association's 2005 Public Education Award. In 2006, in recognition of his efforts to initiate NOAA's lightning safety efforts and for his contributions to that effort, John was awarded a Department of Commerce Silver Medal, the Department's second highest honor.

Other Special Activities

In addition to his work locally on hurricane preparedness, John has served as a member of the NOAA-FEMA Hurricane Liaison Team and was called to NOAA's National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami for Hurricanes Georges in 1998 and Hurricane Irene in 1999. At the NHC, John coordinated forecast information between NHC and federal state, and private emergency response and recovery agencies and organizations.


John received a BA degree in Earth Science/Meteorology from Millersville University in 1974 and an MS degree in Meteorology from the Pennsylvania State University in 1976. In 1976, John began his professional career teaching meteorology and climatology at the State University of New York at Oneonta. From 1977 through 1994, John worked for the National Weather Service's Techniques Development Laboratory, first as a research meteorologist and later as chief of the Computer System Section of the Synoptic-Scale Techniques Branch. At the Techniques Development Laboratory, John was responsible for developing and disseminating statistical forecast products used by meteorologists nationwide. In 1993, he was awarded the Department of Commerce Bronze Medal Award for his work in statistical weather prediction. Since 1995, John served as the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the NWS office in the Gray, Maine. John is a member of the American Meteorological Society. He retired in January 2019 but continues to serve in a voluntary role as a national lightning safety expert.