Honoring Doswell and Mayfield

Browsing the latest Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (Feb. 2005, p. 276-277), I was hugely gratified to see two of my very favorite people in all of meteorology get some well deserved recognition, back to back: Chuck Doswell and Max Mayfield.

Chuck just became the first meteorologist to earn the Sergey Soloviev Medal, a lifetime achievement award from the European Geophysical Society, proving that his enormous impact on the understanding of severe storms has been felt and duly appreciated globally. Very few published papers on any aspect of severe weather fail to have a reference with his name in it, and for good reason.

Max won a local Emmy award from the Suncoast Chapter of NATAS (National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) for his devotion to viewing audiences during the 2004 hurricane season. Amidst directing the National Hurricane Center during one of the most frantic seasons in its history, Max gave over a thousand TV and radio interviews. It’s a wonder he has a voice or any energy left, but after spending some time with him in Jacksonville last week, I can assure that he looks as fit and ready-to-go as ever.

Max is as humble, pleasant, and honest as can be. How he is on the air is how he is, period — truthful, caring and positive, but also quite serious when necessary (i.e., when lives at stake from a landfalling hurricane). Being a high profile manager hasn’t corrupted him one bit, which is a rare treat to see in meteorology.

Chuck just tells it like it is, doesn’t fear any challenge or controversy, and has the credentials and knowledge to back up his powerful arguments. He has paid the price “politically” for his bluntness and courage in speaking out on troublesome issues in meteorology. Because of his candor, Chuck may have acquired enemies and lost some promotions or funding along the way, but he has won something far more important: respect.

In many ways, Chuck and Max are different as can be. But in other ways that may astound those who don’t really know them both — ways that matter most — they are quite similar, and for it I admire them. Aside from their long list of accomplishments, each is among the most unpretentious and purely authentic people I have known, and they are both deeply devoted dads and husbands.

Both of these guys have been absolutely powerful influences on my career as an atmospheric scientist dealing with both tornadoes and hurricanes (and often, tornadoes from hurricanes). In many ways I owe each of them incalculable debts of gratitude for their influence and mentoring — not only early on, but ongoing; and to see them get such recognition is more satisfying than a cold Dr Pepper float on a hot summer afternoon. Though neither Chuck nor Max are motivated to do what they do by the awards and accolades, may they each continue to receive their well earned rewards.


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