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Pioneering Meteorologist, Robert ‘Bob’ Simpson — Co-Developer Of The Saffir-Simpson Scale — Dies At 102

19 Dec 2014, 2:19 pm

robert simpson

Photo credit: Wikipedia
(Robert Simpson, left, talking to a colleague.)

One of the most influential people, in the world of meteorology, has died at the age of 102. Robert ‘Bob’ Simpson was half of the team that developed the widely-used Saffir-Simpson Scale. The Saffir-Simpson Scale is a 1 to 5 ranking of tropical systems, based on wind speed.

Simpson was also an integral part of development of the “National Severe Storms Project,” which later became the National Severe Storms Laboratory — one of the most prolific institutes of severe weather research in the world.

“His life story is fascinating. His interest in meteorology was kindled at the age of six in his hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas when a hurricane’s storm surge interrupted his family’s afternoon supper, and was forced to flee to higher ground mid-course. He studied physics in college and graduate school, but took a job as a high school band instructor in the midst of the Great Depression before gaining employment as a weather observer for the U.S. Weather Bureau in 1940. He then spent decades in hurricane research and forecasting, earning his Ph.D. in meteorology at the University of Chicago along the way…” the Washington Post’s Weather Editor, Jason Samenow, wrote of Simpson, in March 2014.

Simpson lead a long career in public service and meteorological consulting. He started working at the U.S. Weather Bureau (a precursor to the National Weather Service) in the 1940s and was named director of the National Hurricane Center in 1967. He held that position until 1974, when he retired.

After leaving the Hurricane Center, Simpson and his wife, Joanne, started their own weather consulting firm and joined the faculty at the University of Virginia.

Ms. Simpson was an an accomplished meteorologist in her own right, having been the first woman to earn a PhD in meteorology. She passed away in 2010.

Meteorologist Alan Raymond

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