Random Profile

An Angeleno in Colorado

Jenny Black (RAL)

Jenny Black

In Random Profile, we interview a stochastically selected staff member about his or her life at the office—and outside of it.

Staff Notes: You’ve worked in RAL for 5 years. Tell me about your job.

Jenny: I’m an associate scientist. I work on three different projects right now: RAL’s Winter Weather Group, ASAP [Advanced Satellite Aviation Weather Products] In-flight Icing, and National Ceiling and Visibility [NCV].

My job is very well rounded and I get a lot of variety. For ASAP, we work with NASA Langley satellite products, evaluating them and finding current aviation weather products within RAL that the satellite data can be integrated into. For ceiling and visibility, we work with METAR [METeorological Aerodome Reports] observations and we’re getting ready to start a probabilistic forecast product, which means getting into modeling, a whole world I never thought I’d delve into. For winter weather, I do a lot of fieldwork with precipitation gauges as well as data analysis.

SN: What’s a typical day like?

Jenny: Most of the time I’m in the office, but my days are so variable. I got to ride snowmobiles in Wyoming to check on some gauges for a cloud-seeding project. That was awesome. We have the Marshall field site [south of Boulder], where last night I was forecasting a freezing drizzle event for my colleagues, taking manual observations to compare with our gauges. In the office, I am probably writing programs or plotting data and conducting some sort of analysis.

Jenny Black

SN: Do I see a GRE [Graduate Record Examination] prep book on your desk?

Jenny: Yes. I have an undergraduate degree in meteorology, and I’m going back for my master’s in atmospheric science. I’ve already started taking classes at CU, but I have to actually apply for grad school. Very likely I’ll work full time while I’m taking classes, but I might switch to part time when I’m working on my thesis.

SN: What is it that attracts you to atmospheric science?

Jenny: I’ve always kind of been a weather dork. Before I knew I wanted to go into meteorology, I’d watch The Weather Channel constantly. Being able to have weather as part of my job is amazing.

SN: What’s most challenging for you about your job?

Jenny: I’m a new mom. I really miss my baby, Marie, a lot and want to spend time with her. She’s going to be six months next week.

SN: What do you do for fun outside work?

Jenny: A big part of it is playing with Marie. But I like to do hot yoga, and I really like to read. Stephen King is my favorite author. I like oil painting and almost went to art school when I was younger. I also really enjoy spending time with my friends and family. My husband, Lyric, plays hockey as a goalie. He’s extremely athletic which is funny because I’m not.

SN: Where did you grow up?

Jenny: I’m originally from L.A. and came here via Las Vegas. My best friend moved out here and I thought, Why don’t I give Colorado a try? It stuck. I went to school at Metro State, where there’s a great meteorology department, though I had no clue about that when I moved here. It was almost like fate. I even met my husband three days after I moved here. We live in Thornton now.

Then I made all my family move to Colorado. My sister was the first, and two years ago my brother moved here. He’s a master chef at a resort in Vail. And in January, we got my dad to move here. My sister is our nanny—you can’t do better than having auntie watching the baby.

SN: Any big future plans or goals?

Jenny: We have a huge backyard, but it’s all dirt right now and looks like a wasteland. Every year we try to make our backyard look better. This year we’re going to try for grass. I look forward to having a long career in research meteorology. And one day I would love to be on Jeopardy.