Q&A with Researcher Jill Hardy

A Women’s History Month profile

Every NOAA National Weather Service forecaster across the nation travels to Norman, Oklahoma, for professional training with the NWS Warning Decision Training Division. Forecasters receive training on all factors, including the stress involved in issuing warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods.

Jill Hardy
Jill Hardy

Jill Hardy specializes in flash flood warning training. She is a research associate at the University of Oklahoma Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies supporting the NOAA NWS WDTD.

Hardy creates and delivers training through a variety of methods, including online recorded lessons, workshops, hands-on activities, and webinars. These courses cover topics such as fundamentals of flash flood forecasting, tools available to forecasters, and operational best practices.

She earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Geological Sciences from the University of Southern California and her Master’s of Science in Meteorology from OU.

Q: How did you get into your field?

A: For my undergraduate degree, I studied geology and did research on earthquakes and paleoclimate. But I have always been interested in meteorology, so I applied for an internship with NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory and spent a summer in Norman analyzing weather model data. That opportunity propelled me into graduate school for meteorology, and with my geology background, I fit perfectly into a research group that focused on hydrometeorology and flash flooding.

Q: What is it about your job that interests you?

A: I love being the bridge between research and operations. I keep up with the latest science and technology, and then I get to relay that information to NWS forecasters to help them make better warning decisions. 

Q: Tell us about a project or accomplishment you consider to be the most significant in your career?

A: Since 2015, I have been the project lead for the only training course in the NWS that focuses on flash flooding. I take a lot of pride in making sure the course delivers a valuable learning experience for NWS forecasters. If one forecaster remembers one thing from my course that helps make a more-informed warning decision, I feel like I’ve helped the NWS mission to protect life and property.

Q: Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

A: I’m left-handed, but learned to play sports using right-handed equipment. I’ve played softball my whole life: I use a lefty glove, but bat right-handed. And no, I can’t switch hit 😉 

Q: What advice would you provide to up and coming meteorologists or others in your field?

A: Meteorology is a much smaller community than you may realize. As much as you can, take advantage of meeting new people, making close connections, attending conferences, seeking mentors, etc. You never know when you’ll encounter that person again or how they may help you in the future. 

Jill Hardy points at a computer screen, explaining to a student seated next to her what is happening with radar data on the screen.
Jill Hardy provides training to NWS forecasters but also helps OU School of Meteorology students learn about issuing severe weather warnings. As part of a university class last year, students learned briefly what it was like for a NWS forecaster to go through the NWS training with WDTD and CIMMS.

Q: What is the most memorable experience of your career?

A: In 2015, I was selected by the Masie Learning Consortium as a “30 Under 30” member. Through this program, I went to the Learning 2015 conference at Disney World where I attended talks by several notable speakers, including Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder. We also got a free night at Epcot during the Wine and Food Festival, and I participated in a NASCAR pit crew team challenge.

Q: Where is your favorite place to be?

A: I love to travel, so I enjoy checking out any new city or country. But I also love being outdoors. Some of my favorite times with friends have been at a cabin in the woods, hiking in the mountains, or floating down a river.

Q: What’s the most unusual job you’ve ever had?

A: It’s not really unusual, but I guess it is for a meteorologist…For three years in high school and college, I was a Physical Therapy Aide. I helped patients with their exercises, gave them ice/heat packs, scheduled appointments, worked with insurance. I loved that job…and getting to wear scrubs!

Q: If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?

A: I LOVE food, so I’ve often wondered what a day in the life of a chef would be like. I think the fast-paced kitchen environment would be fun…for a day.

Q: What would you most like to tell your younger self?

A: All the hard work pays off in the end, but try not to stress out as much over the “what ifs” and things you can’t control. That’s energy and emotion better spent elsewhere.