NCDC Insider: Meet NCDC Meteorologist, Richard Heim

Image of NCDC Meteorologist Richard Heim

NCDC Meteorologist, Richard Heim

This month’s edition of NCDC Insider features one of the Center’s talented drought and snow experts with over 30 years of service at NOAA. Meteorologist, Richard Heim, joined NOAA in 1982 at the National Weather Service in Great Falls, Montana. After three years, Richard realized that working rotating shifts wasn’t right for him, and he shifted gears and joined NCDC as part of the Customer Services Branch in 1985.

Three years after Richard joined NCDC, a devastating drought struck the Nation. Richard soon became the main respondent for drought information requests and demonstrated that he was capable of more than just monitoring and assessing drought and climate conditions. He soon became a leader of regular drought and climate monitoring activities. Today he is responsible for writing the Drought and Synoptic sections of NCDC’s Monthly Climate Reports and is one of the rotating authors of the U.S. Drought Monitor weekly report.

When he’s not helping out with the Monthly Climate Report or the U.S. Drought Monitor, Richard writes and reviews articles for journals and prepares and gives presentations at conferences. He’s also developing schematics for the Living Blended Paleo Drought Project, for drought monitoring in the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands, and for the revamped Snow Climatology operational processing program. Richard also spends a significant amount of time collaborating with colleagues around the world creating the Global Drought Information System and working on pilots related to the North American Climate Service Partnership, U.S. Water Partnership, and the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Framework for Climate Services.

Richard has been interested in climate and weather since the eighth grade. His teacher, Mr. Neely, spent a few weeks discussing fronts and weather systems and how they affect the world. He especially focused on how they affect aviation, since he was a pilot, and took the class on a ride in his private plane during the semester. After that, Richard was hooked on weather and climate, despite his parallel interest in astronomy and space exploration, which led him to a rather unique college experience. Richard obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics with five minors—geography, physics/astronomy, computer science, history, and English. Then Richard went on to obtain his Master’s in Climatology and Meteorology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Outside of work, Richard likes hiking, playing tennis, writing, and recently discovered he enjoys cooking. However, Richard’s greatest passion in his down time is science education. He’s the science officer of an international Star Trek club, STARFLEET, and president of the local chapter. In this capacity, he focuses on educating the members about a variety of the sciences, despite their main interest in space. Additionally, Richard has given presentations on astronomy and other sciences at local schools and in association with the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute and the Roper Mountain Science Center.

Despite some challenges along the way, Richard tries to “live long and prosper” in both his personal and professional life. Richard has dedicated much of his career and expertise to NCDC and he enjoys what he does. For anyone looking to become a meteorologist, Richard gives this advice, “Do work that you enjoy and that’s worthwhile, do it well, and try to have fun while doing it,” and he tries to heed this principle each and every day.

Stay tuned for the next edition of NCDC Insider to meet more of the Center’s dedicated staff.