Minutes of the High Plains AMS/NWA Chapter Meeting

February 12, 2013

The High Plains AMS/NWA Chapter held a teleconference, with a webinar, on Monday, February 11th, at 11:30 AM CST.  There were 25 members logged into the teleconference. President Bill Taylor/North Platte, Neb. welcomed everyone to the phone call, and quickly introduced our guest speaker, Barbara (Barb) Mayes Boustead, a Journeyman Forecaster from the Omaha, Neb. NWS.

Barb's topic, "Laura's Long Winter:  Story of the Hard Winter of 1880-81" was both entertaining and educational.   This story began with Barb and others reading a series of books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, made famous from the TV series "Little House on the Prairie."  Barb and her co-author went back in climatological record books to confirm, or prove wrong, the very dramatic winter storms Mrs. Wilder wrote about.  Digging up reliable weather data from the 1880's is quite challenging, as data is quite limited.  Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote 4 of her 8 books while in De Smet, SD.  Barb was able to verify the weather presented in the "Laura's Long Winter:  Story of the Hard Winter of 1880-81".  The winter of 1880-1881 in Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Missouri can legitimately be claimed as one of the coldest and wettest winters on record - ever!  A "badness" index, named the AWSSI index, was developed to rank winter storms, and 1880-1881 ranked the worst on record.  One interesting fact Barb and her research partner came across was the mention of a Native American who visited Laura Ingalls, and told her that every 3rd winter would be bad, and every 7th time of a third winter would occur, it would be extremely bad.  This sounds like nice folklore, but the weather records do not support it.  The webinar ended with a few question from our members. 

The business meeting followed the webinar.  Treasurer Scott Bryant, Lead Forecaster at Hastings, Neb. NWS, reported our total ledger balance was $5883.70, with $2140.00 in the Jim Johnson Fund, and $3743.70 in our checkbook balance.  There were 2 new members added since our last meeting, and 49 cents gained in interest. The next subject, under Unfinished Business, was the election of officers.  All current officers will remain in office.  Our President will be William (Bill) Taylor/North Platte, Neb.; our Vice President will be Jeremy Wesely, Hastings, Neb.; the Treasurer will be Scott Bryant, Hastings, Neb., and the Secretary will be Tim Burke, Dodge City, Kan.; and Past President will be Mike Umscheid, Dodge City, Kan.  Congratulations to all officers and thank you for serving this Chapter. 

Under New Business, the status of the High Plains Chapter was discussed at length.  Since travel funds have nearly vanished within the NWS, it was thought we need to think hard about turning our annual conference into a virtual, or partially virtual, conference.  Fewer members would have to travel, and thus fewer funds would be spent on traveling.  This year's conference will not be held, but more intense thought and planning would be devoted to the 2014 conference.  Also, the subject of face to face local chapter meetings was discussed.  We are going to work on this, with possibly one of the late Spring or Summer meetings being held in Norton.  One suggestion brought up was to maybe refund one driver (or so) from each office to drive their POV, reimbursing travel costs from our treasury.

The phone meeting adjourned at 12:55 pm CST.  Our next meeting is tentatively in late March, and could possibly be held in Norton.  Stay tuned.

Bill Taylor, President
Tim Burke, Secretary