Gone Too Soon

4 It is a sign of the times, I suppose. Going through my twitter feed Tuesday morning, I saw it. Within 60 seconds, my wife called from the other room to tell me.

From the National Severe Storms Lab:

We lost a friend: spc.noaa.gov/Racy/ 

I knew immediately.

Jon Racy was a Lead Forecaster at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.  He was among the few meteorologists responsible for issuing Severe Thunderstorm Watches and Tornado Watches for large sections of the country.

My wife and I knew he had been battling cancer for a while.  And we mean battling. It was not long after we reconnected on facebook a few years ago.  The news was occasionally good, then bad, then good, and back again.  He fought hard.

He finally lost the battle on Tuesday morning, January 8.

Tough to read the dates: 1970-2013.  Especially since I was born only 12 months before him.

Like me, Jon was a Penn State Meteorologist.  Certainly there is a friendly rivalry between meteorologists and their schools. Penn State. Cornell. Oklahoma. Wisconsin. North Carolina State. Lyndon State. UNC Asheville. Mississippi State.  The list goes on.  But sharing time in the cold Central Pennsylvania mountains binds us together.

Jon and I moved through the halls of Walker Building at Penn State for a few of the same years.  He finished his undergrad degree while I was in graduate school there.  My wife also knew him well, as they were among the limited number of students in the Earth and Mineral Science Interest House co-ed dorm, Irvin Hall.

It was only today that I realized the last Severe Thunderstorm Watch he issued was the first one for the derecho that moved from the Great Lakes to the East Coast on June 29.

racy

URGENT – IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH NUMBER 435
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1150 AM EDT FRI JUN 29 2012

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

EXTREME NORTHEASTERN ILLINOIS
NORTHERN AND CENTRAL INDIANA
LAKE MICHIGAN

EFFECTIVE THIS FRIDAY MORNING AND EVENING FROM 1150 AM UNTIL 700
PM EDT.

HAIL TO 2.5 INCHES IN DIAMETER…THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS TO 70
MPH…AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS.

THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 60
STATUTE MILES NORTH AND SOUTH OF A LINE FROM 15 MILES NORTH OF
MARSEILLES ILLINOIS TO 35 MILES EAST NORTHEAST OF MUNCIE INDIANA.
FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE ASSOCIATED WATCH
OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU5).

REMEMBER…A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE
FAVORABLE FOR SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH
AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS
AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS. SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAN AND OCCASIONALLY
DO PRODUCE TORNADOES.

DISCUSSION…CLUSTER OF TSTMS OVER NCNTRL IL HAS BECOME MORE N-S
ORIENTED WITH RESPECT TO THE DEEP LAYER MEAN FLOW AND WILL LIKELY
EVOLVE INTO SFC-BASED STORMS EARLY THIS AFTN IN SRN CHICAGO METRO
AREA. STORMS WILL THEN PROPAGATE ESE INTO NRN/CNTRL IND THROUGH THE AFTN WHERE MLCAPES WILL BE IN EXCESS OF 5000 J/KG. VERY STEEP LAPSE RATES AND AT LEAST 35-40 KTS OF MID-LVL FLOW WILL BE FAVORABLE FOR VERY LARGE HAIL AND DMGG WIND GUSTS.

AVIATION…A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL SURFACE AND ALOFT
TO 2.5 INCHES. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE WIND GUSTS TO 60
KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO 500. MEAN STORM
MOTION VECTOR 29040.

…RACY

It always gave me a sense of pride when I read a product from the Storm Prediction Center, and saw his signature at the end.  That is one of the gratifying parts of a meteorology career, to have friends and colleagues in almost every aspect of the weather enterprise, and in all parts of the country.

Jon, like most of us, absolutely loved weather.  Lived it. Breathed it.  He was taken way, way too soon.  Rest, my friend.

racy2

The Storm Prediction Center honors Jon at:  http://www.spc.noaa.gov/Racy/

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About seansublette

Meteorologist at Climate Central. Broadcast meteorologist in Virginia from 1995 to 2015. Born and raised in Richmond, VA. Penn State alumnus. Loves baseball and the rock band Rush. Views are independent of my employer. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
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