A woman in an orange suit jacket and white blouse gestures as she sits at a table with a microphone.

Jane Lubchenco once found herself behind a microphone like this one, explaining to a member of Congress where TV weather stations get their weather data. She is pictured here in 2009, speaking to the American Association for Advancement of Science.

NASA/Bill Ingalls

Jane Lubchenco's long tenure as a biology professor proved helpful in ways she might not have expected during her four years as the head of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

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The returning member of the Oregon State University faculty told Think Out Loud host David Miller Thursday how she found herself teaching a member of Congress where TV weather forecasters get their weather forecasts.

Asked if she had any stories to illustrate her observation that “Washington, D.C. is a pretty crazy place,” Lubchenco recalled a gobsmacking moment when a member of a House committee told her why he didn’t support NOAA’s pursuit of additional federal dollars to pay for the National Weather System’s next generation of weather satellites.

LISTEN: Jane Lubchenco recalls her exchange with a House member

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“This one member of Congress said to me, Doctor, I don’t need your weather satellites. I have the Weather Channel,” said Lubchenco, who is back in Oregon after stepping down in February from her Obama Administration post.

The House member wasn’t joking around.

“He was absolutely serious,” she continued. “I thought, ‘Uh, oh. Did I misunderstand what he knows about where his weather forecast information comes from?'”

Lubchenco told Miller that she used the exchange as a teachable moment. She took a few steps back and explained that the Weather Channel’s forecasts are based on data from NOAA’s National Weather System – thanks in large part to its satellite system.

You can listen to Lubchenco’s conversation on Think Out Loud during its on-air rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Thursday and anytime on the program’s website.


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