Longtime NWS La Crosse Forecaster Steve Thompson Retires

Steve Thompson, senior forecaster at the La Crosse, WI National Weather Service, recently retired after a tenure of 27 years with the agency.

Steve began his meteorology career in 1978 as a weather officer for the U.S. Air Force at Offutt Air Force Base, Omaha, NE. After military service, Steve was a civilian meteorology instructor at Chanute Air Force Base, Rantoul, IL in 1982. He joined the National Weather Service (NWS) at La Crosse, WI in September 1982. Steve was Official in Charge for a short time in 1989 and, during this time, was the only employee at the La Crosse NWS. He has been a senior forecaster since 2003.  He was part of the modernization of the weather office in the 1990s, which included a move to the current location on La Crosse Ridge, installation of the Doppler radar, and high-powered graphical data into the warning and forecast process.  

Steve impacted the service provided by the La Crosse NWS and beyond through his research work associated with aviation forecast services. His pioneering work with fog development and decay at the La Crosse airport in the 1980s still stands as effective local forecast guidance, and his climatological work with visibility related to thunderstorm and snowfall events has improved forecasts for aviation planning across the country.

Highlights of Steve’s NWS career include issuing tornado warnings with long lead times in July 1999, which undoubtedly saved lives in the Lewiston, MN area.  He participated in many outreach activities and most enjoyed conducting storm spotter training sessions every year since 1982.  In addition, he thoroughly enjoyed his work with the office aviation program, which was well suited for Steve, since he is also a private pilot. This work included assisting with the NWS exhibits at the La Crosse Deke Slayton AirFest and the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI.

Photo of Steve presenting a storm spotter class

Steve considers it a God-given privilege to have been a part of the staff at the La Crosse NWS, where professionalism and dedication to duty are held in such high regard. And he would like to express his sincere appreciation to the citizens of southeast Minnesota, northeast Iowa and southwest Wisconsin for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have served them. 

The NWS La Crosse staff wishes Steve well as he moves on to a different phase of his life.



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