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Smith's innovations in delivering advance warning of severe weather events, including tornadoes, lightning, and flash floods and blizzards, have helped AccuWeather save thousands of lives and avert billions of dollars in property damage.
AccuWeather Global Weather Center - March 19, 2018 - AccuWeather, known for its Superior Accuracy™ and the world's fastest-growing provider of weather forecasts and warnings, and a global leader in digital media, today announced that Mike Smith, Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Executive, will retire on March 31.
Dr. Joel N. Myers, Founder, President, and Chairman of AccuWeather, in announcing Smith's retirement, effusively congratulated him on his long and storied career in meteorology. "It is impossible to overstate the enormous impact Mike Smith has had on the thousands of people whose lives have been saved by our accurate severe weather warnings, which were made possible by his unique and pioneering work and dedication-and resulting patents-over the years," Myers said. "All of us at AccuWeather are extremely grateful to Mike for his service and contributions to our company, and to the field of meteorology, and we wish him great happiness and success in his adventures during retirement."
One of America's most innovative and honored meteorologists, Smith knew he would have a career in weather at a very young age. "When I was five, a violent tornado passed south of my home, killing 44 people and damaging my kindergarten," he said. "Seeing the damage the next day made me want to study whatever had done all of that damage. I was determined to do something to help minimize the harmful impacts of the storm I had experienced, and my career enabled me to do so."
Smith went on to receive a meteorology degree from the University of Oklahoma, then worked as a television meteorologist in St. Louis, Oklahoma City, and Wichita, Kansas. On June 8, 1974, Smith was broadcasting for WKY-TV, the NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City, when five tornadoes struck the city in a single afternoon. Smith led the station's near-continuous coverage-unique at the time-which included advanced radar and, for only the second time in history, the live broadcast of one of the tornadoes.
Smith said reading the more than 70 letters from viewers who thanked the station for saving their lives was among the most heartening and humbling moments of his career. He has referred to that afternoon as "the day television weather grew up," noting that the most prominent television news consultant in the industry visited the station shortly thereafter. He was briefed by Smith and the other meteorologists, and learned how they provided the unprecedented level of storm coverage. "Within a few years, the science of weather was better represented on television, and authentic meteorologists with radars had largely replaced amateur weather presenters, hand puppets, and weathercasters who drew cartoons."
In 1981 Smith founded WeatherData, Inc., in Wichita, Kansas. The company developed comprehensive and advanced severe-weather warning services and technologies, which were adopted by government agencies and revolutionized the way industries such as transportation, manufacturing, and others use weather insights to save lives, protect property and reduce the negative impact of weather on the bottom line.
In 2006, WeatherData was acquired by AccuWeather, Inc., and was renamed AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions, Inc. (AES) in 2011, having become the leader in the field of severe weather warnings and risk mitigation. By providing better, more accurate information with more advance notice than anyone else, the company's warnings have become the gold standard in many industries, and many businesses build their emergency preparation and response plans around AES insights and expert consultation.
"I was tasked with keeping track of the weather, not only in Wichita but across the eastern third of Kansas," said Phil Sadler, retired electric utility supervisor for Westar Energy, the largest electric utility provider in Kansas. "I considered Mike and everyone at WeatherData and AccuWeather as partners. I trusted that I would know before any weather that might impact our system and I knew that if Mike thought a weather system could have a severe or unusual impact he would contact me personally. I use the knowledge that Mike taught me every day, even now in my retirement."
Asked what he's proudest of in his long career, Smith answered quickly. "The warnings that AccuWeather has provided that have saved thousands of lives and averted literally billions of dollars in property damage, and have helped businesses operate more profitably. For example, I'll never forget receiving an email while eating breakfast and learning that a flash flood warning from our team prevented a passenger train in Mexico from plunging into a canyon, preventing the loss of hundreds of lives."
Smith has regularly appeared on national television networks and has written numerous articles for both popular and technical publications. Smith has authored two books: Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather, published by Greenleaf Book Group, and When the Sirens Were Silent, published by Mennonite Press. He also holds 29 U.S. and foreign patents in the fields of weather science, emergency management, and search and rescue. Smith is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, and has received the society's Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advance of Applied Meteorology as well as the Award for Outstanding Service to Meteorology by a Corporation.
Smith, who lives in Wichita with his wife of 44 years, Kathleen, plans to spend more time with his granddaughters and family. He also plans to write a third book, provide management consulting services, and attempt to develop a new kind of drone photography.
About AccuWeather, Inc. and AccuWeather.com
More than 1.5 billion people worldwide rely on AccuWeather to help them plan their lives, protect their businesses, and get more from their day. AccuWeather provides hourly and Minute by Minute™ forecasts with Superior Accuracy™ with customized content and engaging video presentations available on smartphones, tablets, free wired and mobile Internet sites, connected TVs, and Internet appliances, as well as via radio, television, and newspapers. Established in 1962 by Founder, President, and Chairman Dr. Joel N. Myers-a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society who was recognized as one of the top entrepreneurs in American history by Entrepreneur Magazine's Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurs-AccuWeather also delivers a wide range of highly customized enterprise solutions to media, business, government, and institutions, as well as news, weather content, and video for more than 180,000 third-party websites.
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