The NWS Operations Proving Ground: Q&A with Ryan Difani

Ryan Difani, CIMMS research associate

The Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies at the University of Oklahoma is highlighting a CIMMS researcher outside of its main office at the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

Ryan Difani is a CIMMS research associate based in Kansas City, Missouri, where his work supports the National Weather Service Operations Proving Ground and the NWS Training Center. Difani completed his masters in Natural Resources with an emphasis in Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric Science from the University of Missouri.

For his research, Difani helps plan technical evaluations on new products released into NWS operations. The goal is to determine the operational readiness of new science and technology before it is deployed into field operations.

Q: How did you get into your field?
My dad is a weather enthusiast, so I came to share a passion for weather with him. He always had The Weather Channel on tv, which I then grew to enjoy watching as well. My interest grew from there. Before long I was “making” 7-day forecasts for my school teachers and creating pretend radar images in Microsoft Paint. I knew I wanted to pursue Meteorology as a career since about the fifth grade. The rest is history.

A room full of people looking at large computer screens with radar images. They are participating in a workshop.
Ryan Difani, standing far right, helps facilitate the Mesoanalyst Boot Camp held in June 2019 at the National Weather Service Operations Proving Ground in Kansas City.

Q: What is it about the job that interests you?
One thing that interests me is I am always presented with the opportunity to learn something new. When I worked as an operational forecaster before coming to CIMMS the weather continually taught me something, kept me humble, and caused me to ask questions. I always tried my best to nail the forecast the next time. It can be a fun challenge. Now that I’m at CIMMS, I see new methods and products that are advancing our profession and challenging us to best utilize such advancements. Of course, this all gets applied to a subject that I’m deeply passionate about and one that consistently fascinates me… the weather!

Q: Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I love to sing! I’ve sung in church since I was a kid and still do to this day. I sing almost every weekend at church as either a background vocalist or in the choir. I have even written a few of my own songs, however, I typically don’t share those songs with many people.

Q: Where is your favorite place to be?
Wherever I’m spending time with my family. It’s not so much the place, but who I’m with. My parents, three sisters, and my brother all live in a different state than I do, so I don’t get to spend as much time with them nowadays as I’d like. Therefore, when we do all get together on a family vacation or for the holidays, it’s a time to cherish.

Q: If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
I’d be a horticulturist at a greenhouse/nursery facility or in a Parks and Recreation department. I thoroughly enjoy gardening and like to try new plants and see what works well together. I wish I knew so much more than I do. I dream of someday having a home with several gardens on the property.