Steamboat’s Art Judson honored by National Weather Service
Steamboat Springs — Longtime Steamboat Springs resident and a leading North American snow scientist, Art Judson, was honored this week for his many years of service as a weather observer with a Special Service Award by meteorologists from the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
He began collecting weather data for the Weather Service in Grand Junction after retiring here in 1985 after a 25-year career as a pioneering avalanche forecaster with the U.S. Forest Service.
The meteorologists from Grand Junction made the drive to Steamboat to recognize the the quality of Judson’s detailed weather reporting, which has made a contribution to the scientific record, Meteorologist in Charge of the Grand Junction office Ben Moyer said. During his tenure as an observer, Judson went beyond recording temperatures and precipitation to include observations of atmospherics and climate trends.
“With your reports, we have been able to verify storm warnings and forecasts, define the local climate and establish a database that acts as a baseline for long-term forecast models,” Moyer read aloud from the proclamation Thursday. “Your data has also been used in various state and private research studies, such as drought and climate cycles.”
He presented Judson with an engraved antique brass precipitation measuring tube as a memento.
Moyer observed that Judson is known among his staff for his willingness to call in a report of a notable weather phenomenon at all hours of the night.
“I enjoy sharing my passion with dedicated forecasters” Judson replied. “I’ll call in at 3 a.m. if something’s going on they need to know about. I’m usually up anyway.”
Among the National Weather staff from the Grand Junction office who took part in honoring Judson were: Science and Operations Officer Mike Meyers; Data Acquisition Program Manager John Kyle; forecasters Joe Ramey and Dennis Phillips; and meteorologist intern Travis Booth.
In 1996, Judson, together with Nolan Doesken who is now Colorado’s state climatologist, authored a soft cover book with the unassuming title, “The Snow Booklet, a Guide to the Science, Climatology, and measurement of Snow in the United States, published by Colorado State University.”
It covers in non-technical prose, almost everything anybody could want to know about the climatology of snow in the United States including the snowiest U.S weather station, national snowfall patterns, snow hydrology and how snow is measured.
It was published by the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University and is out of print but can be found in its entirety as a PDF file on the Internet.
As much as Jud’s (as his friends know him) life is wrapped up in winter and the deep snows of the mountains surrounding Steamboat, he and his wife, Millie, are planning to move to Fort Collins where they also have roots and the winters are milder, but the mountains still are nearby.
Judson promised that he would find a new home with a view of the high peaks of the Front Range.
Judson keeps powerful binoculars on his dining room table so he can monitor avalanche conditions on the Sleeping Giant (Elk Mountain) through the window.
“See that shady patch on the side of the Sleeping Giant?” he asked a Steamboat Today reporter in 2006. “It’s the most prone to avalanches, probably because more depth hoar (crystalline layers) form there. There can be several a year — sometimes none in a year. But there are 26 avalanche paths on the north, northeast, east and southeast sides of the Sleeping Giant. The slides just run year after year in the same places.”
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