Jeffrey Bloomquist is an ambassador. He’s not stationed overseas, but does his important work from his Minnesota Farm Service Agency (FSA) state office in St. Paul. And while he helps farmers and ranchers in many ways, he is recognized particularly for aiding them in preparation against weather risks that could affect their livelihoods.
Bloomquist is a Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) Specialist and Emergency Management Coordinator who recently earned praise from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for his hard work as a “Weather-Ready Nation” (WRN) Ambassador. The Weather-Ready Nation, sponsored by NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS), helps to protect lives and property, and safeguards the national economy by achieving the following goals:
- Improve weather-decision services that forewarn of threats to lives and livelihoods
- Deliver improved water forecasting services to support management of the nation’s water supply
- Enhance climate services to help communities, businesses, and governments understand and adapt to climate-related risks
- Improve information to support economic productivity
- Enable integrated environmental forecast services supporting healthy communities and ecosystem
- Sustain a highly-skilled, professional workforce equipped to meet the mission
To meet these goals, Bloomquist equips FSA staff to support weather-preparedness and agricultural recovery in Minnesota. He helped FSA identify the impact on crops and agriculture in general following major weather events. He worked with FSA county offices weekly to track weather events, conduct yearly training on recording and tracking crop losses due to weather events, and teams with the NOAANWS in a pilot program using FSA county-based weather stations to track weather events and share photos with NWS. NWS and WRN program information is compiled monthly to build county office awareness of seasonal weather variations.
NOAA began keeping weather records in 1895. In the past 121 years, only four summers have been ranked hotter in the continental United States than the summer of 2016. Furthermore, every state in the lower 48 recorded above average temperatures while the climate ranked among the top 24 wettest. (Find details at USDA Summer Weather Review – September 20 2016).
2016 also brought 12 incidents of severe flooding and storms that took 68 lives and averaged over a billion dollars in damages each, more than $13 billion in total damages. With this trend towards unpredictable weather and high temperatures, FSA participates in “Weather Ready,” to help the nation’s farmers and ranchers be proactive and responsive to severe weather events.
Bloomquist’s efforts help to enhance weather awareness for state and local FSA offices and help Minnesota FSA develop strong working relationships with NWS, resulting in the installation of pilot weather stations at additional FSA offices. The goal is to improve data sharing between the two groups for better service.
Bloomquist and his GIS colleagues also partner with other USDA agencies and climate groups in USDA Regional Climate Hubs to support the agriculture industry through severe weather incidents. They monitor changes in climate over time. The Climate Hub mission is to enroll all state offices in the Weather-Ready Nation program in the next fiscal year.
Other FSA State GIS Specialists serving as WRN Ambassadors include Robert McCurry (Maine), Eric Buehler (Idaho), Brenda Zachman (Wisconsin), and Hayes Hubbs (Ohio).
For questions regarding GIS, please contact Shirley Hall, GIS Program Manager