Experiencing nature’s fury first-hand, Vivek Mahale is no stranger to tornadoes. Growing up in cities like DeSoto, Texas, The Woodlands, and Tulsa, he was able to get up-and-close with a swirling whirlwind moving through his neighborhood nearly 25 years ago. Mahale recalls this as the pivotal moment in his life leading him to the University of Oklahoma. “Ever since then, I’ve been fascinated by the weather. I feel incredibly fortunate that I was able to study severe storms. My education at the School of Meteorology is a culmination of nearly a lifetime of interest.”
Currently working as a meteorologist at the National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Office (WFO) in Norman, Oklahoma, Mahale feels he is living his childhood dream. Mahale is charged with issuing watches, warnings, and weather advisories for the 48 counties in Oklahoma and 8 counties in Western North Texas. He also provides multiple types of key forecasts for aviation and fire weather. Additionally, Mahale participates in ongoing research with the NWS in Norman and is involved with outreach to the public.
Mahale remarks that his education at OU was instrumental for his NWS career. “The School of Meteorology being situated within the National Weather Center and collocated with several units of NOAA gave me a great opportunity that led to my current career. I was able to easily participate in the SCEP (Student Career Experience Program) at the Norman WFO while pursuing my MS degree.” Mahale received his BS (2009), MS (2011), and PhD (2019) degrees in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma, earning his MS and PhD while working at the NWS office. He applied for the full-time position he currently holds while still a PhD student conducting research. Mahale’s research was focused on the use of dual-pol radar in the detection of severe and hazardous weather which greatly benefited his NWS colleagues. Mahale sees the future of meteorology leaning toward numerical weather prediction (NWP) as being of utmost importance. He stresses that NWP can provide a look into a probability of a forecast days in advance but effective communication of this probability must be a vital aspect.
The School of Meteorology provided excellent support to Mahale as he conducted his studies. Mahale recalls, “My PhD advisors, Drs. Guifu Zhang and Ming Xue, played an important role during my doctoral research. I am also thankful for Drs. Howard Bluestein and Jerry Bortzge for serving as advisors during my MS degree.” Aside from the vigorous studies of physics, calculus, and meteorological dynamics, Mahale enjoyed attending OU football games. His classmates and friends traveled to numerous OU/TX games and even Big 12 Championships affording a way to kick back and relax from their study and work time.
Mahale encourages current students in the School of Meteorology “to take advantage of the National Weather Center and its occupants!” and to step out of their comfort zone. He encourages graduate students to endeavor teaching as a great opportunity to enhance communication skills while allowing interaction with diverse groups of students and spreading weather awareness. Mahale looks back on his own growth and says, “Never stop learning! Meteorology is still a young science and I am constantly learning new things.”