What is a Forensic Meteorologist?

October 1, 2020 // Article by: Thomas M. Else

According to the Dictionary, the term "forensic" denotes the application of scientific methods, techniques and knowledge to solving legal problems and/or crimes. Did you know that there is such a career as a Forensic Meteorologist, and WeatherWorks, LLC has several Forensic Meteorologists on staff?

Forensic Meteorology is the process of reconstructing the weather for a particular date, time and location. Here at WeatherWorks, we provide past weather reports for law firms, insurance companies, engineering firms, and private individuals. Some of the cases we have worked on in the past consist of the following: slip-and-falls on snow, ice and/or water, motor vehicle accidents, wind damage, lightning strikes, sun glare, weight of snow on a roof, extreme heat and cold, floods, etc. You may ask, how does a Meteorologist recall a particular day or event? In addition, are the reports accurate? Believe it or not, past weather reports are more accurate than weather forecasts because the event already happened. All the daily weather data (RADAR, satellite, surface observations, National Weather Service watches, warnings, forecasts, discussions, etc.) are archived at the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), and can be retrieved by a Meteorologist at any time. A majority of the Forensic Meteorology cases settle out-of-court; however, there are a few, that require a Meteorologists to qualify as a weather expert witness and testify in court.

Can any person with a degree in Meteorology do past weather reports? Yes and no. There is no legal certification required for a Meteorologist to testify in court; however, the Meteorologist must demonstrate that he/she has the professional experience and educational requirements to render such expert opinions. In order to ensure the public receives qualified and reliable experts in the field of Meteorology, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) offers a Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM) certification. To earn the CCM credential, a Meteorologist must pass a stringent written and oral examination, demonstrate a broad background in Meteorology together with detailed knowledge in a particular field of specialization, show exemplary qualities of character, and devotion to high professional standards. At Weather Works, we have two individuals who have obtained the American Meteorological Society CCM designation: Frank P. Lombardo and Thomas M. Else.

WeatherWorks CEO Frank Lombardo (left) and Meteorologist Thomas M. Else (right) have both acheived the Certified Consulting Meteorologist status.