Changes in latitudes…Jimmy Buffett goes south, but Doug Forsyth goes north. Lake Cochrane in South Dakota is a long way from Margaritaville, or a “Salty Piece of Land,” but it’s all the same attitude to Doug. For a couple of weeks each summer, his lake cabin is little bit of boating, a little bit of golf, some trapshooting, playing his guitar, stargazing, and the annual puzzle that gets hung on the wall. A little bit of everything but not too much of anything.
It’s a little bit like Doug’s work history: tree trimmer, meat cutter, bartender, grain bin builder, Air Force…and when the Air Force needed meteorologists – they sent him to Penn State to earn a degree in meteorology. He always went where he was needed – to work on data models and flight simulators at Air Force Global Weather Central in Nebraska, then to work on the first Solar Optical Observation network at the Palehua Solar Observatory in Hawaii, next to the Pentagon and then to a 10cm radar at the Air Force Geophysics Lab in Sudbury, Massachusetts. His experiences made him an expert in radar, algorithm development, and automation.
It was also during this time Doug was sent to Oklahoma. He first came as an Air Force representative as part of the Joint Doppler Operational Project (JDOP) to prove to the National Weather Service and the public that Doppler radar really had an advantage. Working on JDOP also gave Doug the opportunity to earn his Master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma. He came back to Oklahoma again, courtesy of the Air Force, as part of the NEXRAD Interim Operational Test Facility (the beginning of the Radar Operations Center) in 1982. It was then he decided he really loved radar work and chose to stay in Oklahoma.
Doug officially came on board at NSSL in 1985 as a special projects manager. Since then he’s filled many roles including division director, manager, deputy director, and acting director of NSSL. He is now retiring as Chief of Radar Research and Development. Doug and his team explored phased array radar technology and its rapid-scan capabilities. “We’re seeing things we’ve never seen before,” Doug said. “It’s a better radar. NSSL is state of the art – pushing the envelope of new horizons of knowledge – it is fun to be a part of something that benefits the nation.” Doug thinks he has the best job in the world, and NSSL is the ideal place to work: “You have the freedom to do what you think needs to be done.”
Doug has always had a passion to make things better and seized an opportunity to make a unique working environment for the weather community in Norman. He worked tirelessly as the program manager on behalf of NOAA during the planning, design, and construction of the National Weather Center (NWC). He now has a tremendous sense of satisfaction sitting in his new office on the fourth floor of the NWC, surrounded by a dozen prestigious weather organizations. “It’s serene, amazing, wonderful.” He had the honor of “topping out” the building with co-worker Bob Staples by planting the American flag on top of the NWC. “It was a once in a lifetime experience.”
“My dad, the greatest man I know.” A strong endorsement from Doug’s daughter, Rachel, a former intern at NSSL. Rachel has a twin brother, Ross. “I hear all the time when I’m introduced around the Weather Center about what a great guy my father is.” Doug and his wife, Ann have a new high school graduate at home, Holly. “My dad is the greatest listener, supporter, and the greatest role model when it comes to living each day with a passion for life. He only lifts me up and is the calmer of all storms (no pun intended! ha!).” Doug is active in his church and community working towards helping the chronically homeless. He also enjoys hi-tech adventure movies and talking to other folks around the U.S. on amateur radio. What continues to tug though, is that lake in South Dakota. For him, it’s “where the song of the ocean meets the salty piece of land.”