- Associated Press - Sunday, May 15, 2016

MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey’s chief federal meteorologist will retire this month after a 36-year career that has included thousands of forecasts and thousands of Twitter followers.

Gary Szatkowski has served as meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly since 1997 and will retire May 27.

Szatkowski has embraced using Twitter to provide weather information and engage with followers. He has more than 15,000 and is very active as severe weather approaches and during storms.

“Forecasting can’t just be about technical excellence, but it also has to be about messaging excellence,” Szatkowski told the Press of Atlantic City (https://bit.ly/1sp944u).

A personal plea included in a forecast ahead of Superstorm Sandy in 2012 has been credited with helping to convince many people of the seriousness of the impending storm.

“Gary always puts himself in our shoes and tells the truth straight up,” said Vince Jones, emergency management director for Atlantic County. “He understands our job and would come right out and say what he thought we needed to do.”

At the same time, after a 2015 forecast of a major blizzard turned out to be wrong, he apologized on Twitter.

“Most people were trusting the forecast to be right, and it wasn’t,” Szatkowski said. “I just wanted the public to know that we don’t take that trust for granted.”

Szatkowski said a tornado that touched down in his hometown of Chicago when he was 9 is what sparked his passion for weather.

Through the years, he has been part of the technological innovations in how the weather is forecast and seen the science improve.

“People used to always hear a weather forecast and expect it to be wrong, but now people expect meteorologists to actually be right,” Szatkowski said.

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Information from: The Press of Atlantic City (N.J.), https://www.pressofatlanticcity.com


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