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Meet the Southwest Airlines Meteorologists

Explorer C

Did you know that our Company has its own Meteorologists? Most airlines outsource their Meteorology. Not us. Meet the Men of Meteorology at Southwest Airlines–Rick Curtis and Brian Collins. 


Rick and Brian have been with the Company for twelve years and three years, respectively. The Meteorology department itself has been around since 2003.


Our Meteorologists play a key role in helping our Operations Coordination Center (OCC) develop its operational game plan. Day-to-day, our weather guys expend lots of energy preparing for all that forecasting.  Beginning hours before their daily morning meetings, they use various forecasting models from the National Weather Service (NWS) to look at our 65 stations and the entire country to identify areas of concern.


They compare their own data with that of the NWS. They evaluate the potential for operational disruptions and meet with the Superintendent of Dispatch to brief them on the conditions.


They present a forecast twice a day—once in the morning (at our daily Morning Operational Meeting…aka…MOM) and once in the afternoon (at our daily shift briefing).  At the start of each of these meetings, while using a U.S. map projected on a large screen, our Meteorologist will outline in detail the stations that may potentially be impacted by Mother Nature and answers any questions that our Dispatch, Customer Service, Ground Operations, and Flight Operations Teams may have.  In the event of severe weather, Rick and Brian will send informational emails to the Southwest Airlines’ stations, centers, and facilities that may be affected.


Some of you may recall the havoc the weather caused this past winter (Who could forget, right?) These guys helped the OCC gauge the extent and severity of each of those weather systems: snow in Las Vegas; snow/mixed precipitation in Spokane, Seattle, and Portland; snow/low visibility/freezing temperatures in Chicago; and the cold/blustery weather that moved over the Northeast.  Through it all, our Meteorologists did their very best to stay ahead of all the impending precipitation that was in play from coast-to-coast.  In addition to the important daily forecasting, these guys do a lot of ad-hoc projects for other departments (i.e., Safety, Ground Operations, and Crew Scheduling). 


Are you curious to know how these “Men of Meteorology” obtained their expertise?  Both have degrees in Meteorology—Rick attended Lyndon State College in Vermont and Brian attended Northern Illinois University. Before joining Southwest, Rick worked for a company that forecasted weather for highways and airport operators; while Brian implemented weather forecasting tools and provided equipment training at both FAA facilities and airlines.