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Climate Control

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 17, 2017) — Born in Panama, Ernesto Findlay doesn’t exactly come from snow country. But his fascination with weather was sparked by Dec. 26, 2010 blizzard that trapped him and his family on a highway in the middle of Pennsylvania for about nine hours.

The so-called Boxing Day Storm was a huge Nor’easter that blanketed the Northern United States and Canada. “One of the things that really sparked by interest in weather was seeing flashes of lighting occurring with this snowstorm,” Findlay said. “It was just fascinating to see lighting and wind – it basically looked like a thunderstorm back in Panama, but now instead of rain you had snow coming down.”

Findlay was 18 and “super excited” about the phenomenon, even as the rest of his family worried about practical things – getting stuck, the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning, hypothermia. They managed to stay safe and, for Findlay, the event was life changing. He wanted to know how a storm of such magnitude is created, and how to better predict such storms to keep people safe. And he recalled something he had heard during a college tour: that he should make sure whatever field he chose he was going to love for the next 40 years.

So Findlay chose weather, and was attracted to UAlbany’s Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences. Findlay likes the research aspect of the department, the professors and the comradery, and the outreach to area schools.

Over the years the kid who came to the United States in 2006 with almost no English skills excelled, winning the American Meteorological Society Named Scholarship, the Arthur Loesch Scholarship Award and the Class of 1905 Bazzoni Fellowship Award. In his senior year, he also won the department’s Outstanding Student Award and Best Forecaster Award.

Findlay graduated summa cum laude, with a B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences 2014. He’s now completing his third year of a MS/PhD program in atmospheric sciences, researching the way that tropical patterns affect weather thousands of miles away – in the Northeast, for instance. And he’s still fascinated by a good snowstorm.

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