J. Owen Rhea

(1938-2012)

Special Recognition Award

The following is the text found on the Special Recognition Award presented to J. Owen Rhea, Ph.D., Meteorologist (retired), National Weather Service, California-Nevada River Forecast Center, Sacramento, California at the 2004 California Extreme Precipitation Symposium held at the University of California, Davis on July 1, 2004.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD

PRESENTED TO


DR. J. OWEN RHEA


FOR YOUR ORIGINAL AND INNOVATIVE CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE FIELD OF QUANTITATIVE PRECIPITATION FORECASTING IN MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN



JULY 1, 2004


2004 CALIFORNIA EXTREME PRECIPITATION SYMPOSIUM

Professional Background

Owen Rhea
Owen Rhea

I hold Ph.D., M. S., and B. S. degrees in atmospheric science (meteorology). I have many years of experience dealing with precipitation forecasting in mountainous areas, dating back to 1965 in Colorado.

On July 1, 2004, I was honored with a plaque presented to me at a hydrometeorological symposium at the University of California, Davis … for "original and innovative contributions to the field of quantitative precipitation forecasting in mountainous terrain."

I am also a competent FORTRAN programmer with experience in computational environments ranging from micros to mainframes. I also have experience with various statistical packages.

My meteorological experience is summarized in reverse chronology in the next several paragraphs.

Meteorological Experience Summary

1985-2004

Varied professional activities. These included:

  1. Consulting to expand the application of my orographic precipitation model
  2. Employment with a major environmental consulting company (where we performed numerous health risk assessments for industrial clients, particularly oil companies, using a variety of Gaussian dispersion models for both simple and complex terrain)

Early in 1992, I was employed by the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation and then moved in early 1994 to the NWS California/Nevada River Forecasting Center as the Senior Hydrometeorological Analysis and Support Forecaster, where I retired at the end of August, 2000. During this time, work continued on improving Quantitative Precipitation Forecasting (QPF). This QPF development work continued past retirement, and during the wet season, I continued working some operational shifts through February, 2004.

1966-1985

Largely involved with studies of mountain weather phenomena in Colorado and California, particularly the distribution and forecasting of precipitation, but also temperature variations and airflow characteristics in complex terrain, using both surface and upper air observational networks. Over half of this period was spent with mountain weather modification field programs, in particular the Park Range Project in NW Colorado, the Colorado River Basin Pilot Project in SW Colorado, and the Sierra Cooperative Pilot Project in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. All three of these projects were sponsored by the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation. My participation ranged from project forecaster and research scientist to program manager for groups involved in all aspects of cloud-seeding experiments. This afforded me:

  1. Extensive computer handling of precipitation and upper air data for statistical analysis of seeding effects
  2. Extensive project forecasting
  3. Extensive technical writing and report preparation, including proposals, budgets, and work plans

One outcome from this period is a mountain precipitation model for climatological and quantitative precipitation forecasting purposes which has been adapted to several different geographical areas and computers.

This period also included:

  • Some teaching of climatology and synoptic meteorology
  • Fire weather forecasting in Alaska
  • Studies of snow hydrology

Pre-1966

My early career interests were in severe storms forecasting and research, and I spent four years in the Midwest in industrial meteorology, providing clients with specialized forecasts, including thunderstorm warnings, temperature and wind forecasts for gas and electric utility companies, pilot briefings and media forecasts. Early part of period also includes work in NWS offices in Texas as observer-briefer and rawinsonde observer and work in a state climatologist office.