Hi I'm Simon Smith, a resident of Northwest Montana in the shadow of the majestic Cabinet Mountains. I attended the University of California, Davis majoring in Atmospheric Science but I truly gained my experience in weather forecasting from Tom Cylke, a friend and retired experienced weather forecaster from the National Weather Service in Reno, NV. I have lived in some of the most beautiful regions of the west, including the Eastern Sierra towns of Mammoth Lakes and South Lake Tahoe and have experienced some of the harshest winter storms in the country. Here winter storms are not measured in inches but literally feet. In fact a major winter storm had to drop at least 4 1/2 feet of snow in a 24 hour period in town to even be considered a major winter storm. Most of our run of the mill winter storms dumped 2-3 feet of snow in a 24 hour period along with 30-50 mph winds and life went on as usual. My passion for weather really began when I was 5 years old while we were living in Mammoth Lakes, CA and the town received approximately 500 inches of snow and we still had snow in our front yard in mid August that year. I also remember watching a television reporter standing above the beach in Southern California giving a briefing on a storm when all of a sudden I heard this loud crack and breaking sound and the reporter whipped around and said "There goes another house"[into the ocean]. After the relentless onslaught of winter storms that year I became very curious about weather and what causes these storms. While most of California receives very little or no precipitation during the months of June - October, the mountains often have strong and sometimes violent thunderstorms that can cause everything from forest fires, to flash flooding to even snowfall in the middle of summer. This also got my attention. After my studies were completed at school, I moved back to the Eastern Sierra this time South Lake Tahoe and became the Co-Op observer for the town. This involved daily reporting to the National Weather Service in Reno, NV and is also how I met my weather mentor, Tom Cylke. He invited me to come to the office to learn more and share his experience in forecasting. The best weather forecasters don't necessarily have the best school education but instead have the best experience.
For the next 10 years from 1997 to 2007 I collected and recorded weather data for South Lake Tahoe becoming first a "weather spotter" and then the "co-op observer" for the National Weather Service in Reno. In my daily phone calls to the office, I would speak to various different forecasters and this is how I got to know Tom. He invited me to come to the office to share some of his knowledge and show me some of the tools that the Weather Service uses to make forecasts. The Eastern Sierra is probably one of the most difficult regions in the lower 48 states to forecast for and having spent 11 years there was more than enough for me to see this. The most memorable experience I have in my time in South Lake Tahoe outside of winter storms would have to be my involvement in helping the National Weather Service in providing weather conditions for the 2007 Angora Fire in South Lake Tahoe, a devastating fire that left many scars on the area. In September of 2007 I decided to move back to the Northwest, this time to Northern Idaho and became the co-op observer for Hayden Lake, ID. From 2007 to 2012 I collected the same data as I did in Tahoe and was in communication with the National Weather Service in Spokane, WA. In July of 2012 I relocated one more time to the far Northwest Montana town of Libby where I currently reside. I am truly blessed to have been able to live in these beautiful areas and study one of the phenomena that I love, weather in the West. I have also been blessed to have the support of family and friends including the community where I reside in Northwest Montana.
Some of my personal hobbies besides weather forecasting include spending time with family and friends, hiking, whitewater rafting, kayaking, building relationships, mentoring, spending time in Glacier National Park, gardening, and involvement in community church activities. I am privileged to live in a community that has strong faith and values relationships, two things I am passionate about. The best weather forecasters don't necessarily have the best school education but instead have the best experience. I hope this website is useful, helpful, interesting and a blessing to those who use it.