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On this episode of Mississippi Stories, Mississippi Today Editor-at-Large Marshall Ramsey sits down with William “Bill” Parker, Meteorologist-In-Charge of the NOAA National Weather Service Forecast Office in Jackson, Mississippi. Bill, a native of New Orleans, is the nation’s first African American to head one of the nation’s 122 National Weather Service’s forecast offices.

A New Orleans native, he was always fascinated by the weather; however, a statistics class and a love of math cemented his desire to go into meteorology. A proud Jackson State grad, Bill thought he’d go into the broadcast but instead landed as a meteorologist in Louisiana. After years of forecasts and shift work, Bill landed back in Jackson in 2016, replacing Alan Gerard, who transferred to the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory in Oklahoma.

Bill discusses the mission of the National Weather Service and talks about some of the roles the team of 20 meteorologists performs. He also talks about mentorship and gives great advice for how someone can break into the field of meteorology.

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Marshall Ramsey, a nationally recognized editorial cartoonist, shares his cartoons and travels the state as Mississippi Today’s Editor-At-Large. He’s also host of a weekly statewide radio program and a television program on Mississippi Public Broadcasting and is the author of several books. Marshall is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and a 2019 recipient of the University of Tennessee Alumni Professional Achievement Award.