Taylor Trogdon, MS’15
As a scientist contracted by CyberData Technologies, Inc. to work with the National Hurricane Center’s Storm Surge Unit, Taylor Trogdon prepares forecasts of the havoc hurricanes and tropical storm systems can cause with storm surges. But during this year’s turbulent hurricane season in the Atlantic, Trogdon and the Storm Surge Unit in Miami found themselves in the path of Hurricane Irma, at one point a Category 4 storm.
“It was really pretty intense,” Trogdon said. “If you’re working a major hurricane anywhere it’s stressful, but when you add that layer of your own personal belongings and preparing for the storm, it compounds your stress. You worry about your animals and your house, in addition to the people you’re getting information to.” The core of the storm went through the lower Keys and southwest Florida, he said, but hurricane-force gusts reached the Miami area. The destruction there was minor compared to the damage seen in southwest Florida.
Trogdon, a Columbia, Missouri, native, received his undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri before receiving a master’s degree in atmospheric science at Creighton in 2015. He’s been fascinated with weather since childhood, he said. “It’s my hobby, and it’s something I love,” he said. “If you can do that for a career, it’s pretty cool.”
With major storms battering Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, Trogdon said this hurricane season, which runs from June to November, has been one of the most active in many years. When there is an active hurricane or tropical system, the NHC Storm Surge Unit shifts into marathon mode, with staffers working 12-hour shifts to support hurricane specialists and issue important forecasts for storm surges.
“It was mentally exhausting,” he said. “You didn’t have a break between storms, and you use a lot of energy during a land-falling hurricane. Working back to back to back is draining, and I’m ready for a quieter period.” In addition to his official work, Trogdon keeps his nearly 21,000 Twitter followers up to speed on storm predictions, interesting weather facts and photos of his cats. Trogdon’s master’s thesis was on communicating weather information, and he thinks Twitter is a great place to share rapidly evolving information. “I’ve always tried to be a calmer voice,” he says. “I think that resonates with some people.”