...Local Forecaster to Retire from the NWS After 31 Years of Service...

Lead Forecaster Joseph Donald (Don) Kirkpatrick will retire from NWS Louisville (LMK) on July 30, 2011 after a storied 31-year federal career with the National Weather Service, all served in Louisville.  Don began his career as a Kentucky state employee in 1978 working as a communications specialist with the NOAA Weather Radio program at the Louisville office.  In July 1980, Don entered the NWS as a forecaster aide, and then was promoted to meteorological technician, journeyman forecaster, and finally to senior/lead forecaster for the past 17 years.  During that time, Don has been an extremely hard working, diligent, and conscientious forecaster whose experience and insight are second to none.  Mr. Kirkpatrick’s leadership, work ethic, knowledge, situational awareness, and calm demeanor even in difficult weather situations have resulted in years of phenomenal service for citizens of central Kentucky and south-central Indiana.

Don goofing off at the office Christmas party. Don showing Representative Anne Northup what we do at the National Weather Service. Don hard at work during severe weather.

Over his illustrious career, Don achieved a multitude of operational, training, and research milestones.  For numerous years, he has been LMK’s Radar and Severe Weather Operations Program Leader enhancing our severe weather services.  Most recently, from 2000-2010, Don relentlessly worked on a detailed research project to collect flash flood data in all 59 counties in LMK’s County Warning Area, including flood prone areas, historical events, flood fatalities, drainage response, waterways crossing roads, etc.  His project significantly improved LMK’s flash flood services with county-specific attribute data for use in warnings and statements.

Don authored or co-authored several scientific papers during his career, helped develop and conduct training, and participated in numerous outreach events.  He also worked many memorable hazardous weather events, a few being:

o  May 25-26 and April 19-20, 2011 significant severe outbreaks

o  May 1-2, 2010 major flooding on Kentucky Derby Weekend

o  January 27-28, 2009 catastrophic ice storm (0.5-2 inches of ice in parts of Kentucky)

o  March 7-8, 2008 snowstorm (10-15 inches of snow in northern CWA)

o  Dec 22-23, 2004 record snowstorm with 2-3 feet of snow in southern Indiana

o  May 30, 2004 major severe weather and tornado outbreak

Finally, Don is an outstanding shift supervisor and leader, particularly during all modes of hazardous weather.  He consistently leads by example with the utmost integrity, while providing direction, insight, mentorship, and best practices to his peers to improve their skills.

Don will be missed at LMK, but his legacy will live on for a long time.  We’re sure to see Don at future gatherings to catch up on life as a retiree.  He plans to remain in Bardstown, Kentucky where he’s lived with his family for many years.  Don certainly deserves some serious R & R, and we all wish him the very best! 

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