Meteorologist Alan Gerard has been chosen to lead the Warning Research and Development Division of the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory, Director Steven Koch announced.
Gerard has served as the deputy division chief since 2015. He came to NSSL after a 25 year career with the National Weather Service, including 17 years as the science operations officer and then meteorologist-in-charge of the NOAA NWS Forecast Office in Jackson, Miss.
“I know the importance of warning information to our society after working numerous high impact weather and flood events in NWS forecast offices,” Gerard said. “I hope in this role of leading the incredible scientists who are working every day to improve weather and flood warnings, I can contribute to making all of us safer from the impacts of hazardous weather.”
Ph.D. Space Physics and Astronomy, Rice University
M.S. Space Physics and Astronomy, Rice University
B.A. Physics, Rice University
Don was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. Aside from his 4th grade year, which he spent in Durham, North Carolina, and his 11th grade year, spent in Beirut, Lebanon, Don’s entire childhood took place in Texas. He remained in the state for college, earning his bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. at Rice University in Houston, where his graduate research focused on using recordings of thunder to map where lightning occurred in a hailstorm. Don came to Norman in 1978 as a postdoctoral researcher.
What He Does:
Don began working with NSSL in 1978, first as a postdoctoral research with OU CIMMS, and then as a National Research Council postdoc. Since December 2000, Don has been a Federal research scientist with the Lab. He currently serves as the Storm Electricity Team Leader in the Warning Research Development Division. Using the Lightning Strike Locating System, his team conducts studies on positive cloud-to-ground detection. Recently, the longest lightning bolt ever recorded was found to extend almost 200 miles across the state of Oklahoma. The bolt occurred during a thunderstorm on June 20, 2007.
Don is the son of a Canadian father and a Texan mother. His wife and two daughters all hold Master’s degrees in music. In his free time, Don enjoys reading, gardening, strength training, music, and he has recently taken up ballroom dancing.
Alan Gerard, Deputy Division Chief, Warning Research & Development Division
M.S. Emergency Management, Millersville University
B.S. Meteorology, St. Louis University
Alan was born in Granite City, Illinois, a suburb of St. Louis. He attended St. Louis University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in meteorology. He then went on to earn his Master’s degree from Millersville University in Pennsylvania. At Millersville, Alan’s Capstone project was entitled “A Comparative Analysis of Tropical Cyclone Warning and Disaster Management Programs Worldwide.”
Prior to joining NSSL, Alan spent over 25 years as a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He began his career in 1990 as an intern at the Weather Service Office in Columbus, Ohio, then spent three years as a forecaster in Cleveland, Ohio. In January 1996, he made the move to Jackson, Mississippi, where he was a Senior Forecaster for two years, then was promoted to Science and Operations Officer, and finally served as Meteorologist-in-Charge from 2002 until 2015.
Alan is a longtime, active member of the National Weather Association, and served as President of the organization in 2007. He is the current NWA Treasurer. Additionally, Alan has been a member of the American Meteorological Society for a number of years. He is currently working with the Board of Enterprise Communication.
What He Does:
Alan came to NSSL in November 2015 as the Deputy Division Chief of the Warning Research and Development Division. During his long tenure with the National Weather Service, he experienced first-hand the impacts of significant severe weather events. He had been on the front lines during tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and ice storms. He was involved in forecast operations during Hurricane Katrina and the April 2011 tornado outbreak. Having worked closely with those who try to keep people safe (Emergency Managers, public safety officials, etc.), he knew he wanted to help build society’s capacity to save lives and reduce weather impacts, not just in the United States, but around the world. With NSSL, he is able to assist with oversight on programs that are developing new warning techniques and methodologies for all types of weather hazards. Notably, Alan is taking the lead on the Forecasting A Continuum of Severe Threats (FACETs) program, a proposed next-generation watch and warning framework that is designed to communicate clear and simple hazardous weather information to the public. FACETs supports NOAA's Weather-Ready Nation initiative to build community resilience in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather events.
Having grown up near St. Louis, Alan is a big fan of the St. Louis Blues hockey team and the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. When it comes to football, he roots for the Arizona Cardinals.
Alan is also an avid golfer, and is working on brushing up his game. While visiting his daughter during her overseas study in the U.K., he took advantage of the opportunity to attend The Open Championship.
Alan, his wife, and their two children all enjoy traveling. They especially like to visit Disney Parks, and have been to the resorts in Florida, California, and Paris!