Norman meteorologist focuses on the moments of severe weather as well as the months ahead
NORMAN — David Andra hasn’t just observed Oklahoma’s weather for decades.
Andra, 52 of Norman, has watched and interacted with its people.
And when it comes to disasters he has watched them respond to help their neighbors not only in the moment, but in the months ahead.
“Whether it was the Murrah Building in 1995 or the tornadoes in May 2013, everyone united to help their neighbor, their community, and their state cope with the impacts,” Andra said. “They helped in the moment and through the months that followed.”
That’s also how Andra has long approached his job with the National Weather Service, Norman forecast office — in the moment and for months, even years to follow.
After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, Andra began an internship with the Oklahoma City National Weather Service in 1987. By 1989 he moved up to a forecaster position, then became an instructor in 1993 for the nationwide deployment of the NEXRAD Doppler radars.
After about a year and a half, an opportunity opened in the Norman National Weather Service forecast office. In early 1995 he was selected as the science and operations officer for the forecast office in Norman and held that position until his promotion to meteorologist in charge in 2012. In that role he leads the office that serves 48 counties in Oklahoma and eight in western, north Texas.
With the weather service he serves in the moment as severe weather develops and strikes. But he has and continues to be interested in the technology used in forecasting.
“Two major technologies come to mind,” he said. “First, Doppler radar and its deployment across the country greatly impacted not only the science of weather, but our ability to provide advance warning of many threats ranging from tornadoes to flash floods.
“More recently, computer models of the atmosphere have made tremendous improvements in our ability to forecast the weather. I think eventually we will be working with computer models at the level of individual thunderstorms.”
Special weather forecasts
Through the years, Andra has been at the Norman office for several tornadoes, including three F5 or EF5s, the highest on the scale. He also was working in April 1995 when the office issued special weather forecasts during search and rescue efforts after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
“People are why we’re here,” Andra said. “They rightly expect us to do our best each and every day to help them make informed decisions in their daily life and for the safety of their families.
“Oklahoma faces year-round dangerous weather situations that we all know too well. It is an important trust and responsibility and I, as do others in the weather business, always hold as a core value in our careers.”
In addition to work at the forecast office, Andra remains active in professional organizations that involve weather and “especially in activities that mentor young people.”