Award presented to local weather forecaster

A local weather forecaster recently received a prestigious award from the National Weather Association, just in time for his retirement. Robert H. Johns, the Science and Operations Officer at the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Okla., received the T. Theodore Fujita Research Achievement Award during the National Weather Association’s recent meeting in Spokane, Wash. The Fujita award is presented to an NWA member whose research has made a significant contribution to operational meteorology. The NWA recognized Johns for his research achievements in severe weather and tornado forecasting.

SPC Director Joseph Schaefer praised Johns for his dedication during the past 20 years in serving as a mentor for young forecasters and meteorology students, helping guide applied research projects within the SPC, and being a highly sought after teacher and educator in the field of severe weather forecasting techniques.

“Bob Johns has been remarkably effective in sharing his scientific insights, knowledge and research findings with colleagues in the meteorological forecasting, research and academic communities over the past quarter century,” Schaefer said.

Johns retired Nov. 3 after 39 years of federal service.

As a forecaster for the SPC, Johns has issued many severe weather watches for tornado occurrences, including the Hurricane Danny outbreak in August of 1985, the Andover, Kan. outbreak in April of 1991, and the Fort Worth, Texas tornado episode in March of 2000.

Other important forecasts and watches issued by Johns were the climatologically rare and difficult diagnosis of the Petersburg, Va. tornado outbreak in August of 1993 and for an intense windstorm that caused severe damage in Utah and Wyoming in May of 1994. He received the U.S. Department of Commerce Silver Medal in 1982 for his role in issuing timely and accurate forecasts during the April tornado outbreak of that year.

Over the past few years, Johns has also been involved with research experiments regarding forecasting for the SPC. During the springs of 1994 and 1995, he participated as a forecaster for NOAA’s VORTEX research progress. He has published 35 scientific papers about severe weather.

In addition to research efforts, Johns managed the SPC training program and developed several severe local storms workshops and seminars that have assisted NWS field offices and training centers, storm prediction centers with the U.S. Air Force and in Canada, the American Meteorology Society (AMS) and universities such as St. Louis University and the University of Oklahoma. He also assists the meteorological community by serving on the AMS Severe Local Storms Committee and on their Severe Local Storms Conference Committee, as an associate editor of the AMS journal Weather and Forecasting, and as an occasional editor for other AMS publications and the NWA’s National Weather Digest.