Jack Hales has been selected as a distinguished alumnus for the Department of Atmospheric Science at the University of Utah. He was recognized for his achievements on Thursday, May 1.
“It has been almost 50 years since I earned degree in meteorology from the University of Utah, it certainly went by in a hurry,” said Hales. “Along with marrying my wife and partner of 48 years, Susan, and the birth of our 5 children, the degrees from the U top the list of my life events.”
Hales credits a snow storm in southern California for giving him the desire to learn more about weather patterns.
“I was born and raised in the capital of boring weather, Southern California,” he said. “On Jan. 10, 1949, more than half an inch of snow covered the civic center. The San Fernando Valley was pelted with the unfamiliar white stuff for three days, accumulating almost a foot. At the time I was six years old living in Claremont, a suburb of Los Angeles, where I was astounded by several inches of snow. That was, and still is the greatest snow event ever recorded in the LA Basin. From that point on I became a weather nerd all the way through elementary, junior and senior high school.”
After completing his studies at the University of Utah, Hales began working as a weather observer at the SEATAC Airport in Washington. From Washington, Hales moved to covering weather in Arizona.
“During my six years in Phoenix, the entire forecast responsibility for Arizona was transferred over from ABQ, and I was able to advance to a Lead Forecaster position,” Hales said. “I was fortunate to be selected as a Severe Local Storms Lead forecaster by the director of the National Storm Forecast Center in 1975.”
“I issued my first tornado watch on Aug. 7, 1975 over North Dakota and my final watch was over South Dakota on June 30, 2011,” Hales said. “In the intervening years over 5,500 watches went out with my name on them. I have always considered it a privilege to have been given the opportunity to work in the elite forecasting unit in the world.”
Hales spent 46 years with the National Weather Service before retiring to Star Valley Ranch.
These days he keeps tabs on weather patterns in Star Valley and posts local weather information at starvalleywyweather.blogspot.com.
Hales was also instrumental in getting some weather stations established in the valley.
“Knowing that I would be retiring to a home we built in Star Valley Ranch, and with a life long passion for the understanding of weather, I was able to aid in the establishment of three weather stations in Star Valley in 2010,” he said. “They are located at Thayne and Etna Elementary schools as well as in the Town of Star Valley Ranch. They have provided more or less a continuous weather record since the Fall of 2010. The stations are built by Davis Instruments and have been and continue to provide their data online.”
“A primary purpose of the weather stations at the schools is to stimulate student interest in not only weather, but science in general,” he continued. “The school stations were funded by the Student Loan Fund of Idaho. All Three stations observe temperature, humidity, winds, pressure and both frozen and liquid precipitation. The Thayne Station has additional sensors that measure soil temperature and moisture at three depths: just below the surface, two feet and four feet deep. The Thayne station also measures both solar insolation and UV levels.”