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Meteorologist Jim Christopherson retirement ‘end of an era’

May 06, 2010|By ELIZABETH VARIN, Staff Writer
  • ELIZABETH VARIN PHOTO Local meteorologist Jim Christopherson checks records for the hottest day of the year on Wednesday, his last day before retiring.
ELIZABETH VARIN PHOTO
Local meteorologist Jim Christopherson checks records for the hottest day of the year on Wednesday, his last day before retiring.

Local meteorologist Jim Christopherson started Wednesday like any other day, getting up at 5 a.m. to prepare to broadcast his weather forecast.

However, it was the beginning of his last day as meteorologist for the county and Imperial Irrigation District.

Christopherson retired Wednesday after 35 years as a meteorologist for Imperial County.

“It was time, I think,” he said.

He plans to stay in the Valley with his wife, who works as a dietician at El Centro Regional Medical Center, he said.

Christopherson won’t be looking at the weather, other than to enjoy it, he said. Knowing what’s going on behind the scenes of the storm ruins a bit of the beauty behind it.

He has many good memories as local meteorologist, starting when he was working in the old county building and could see around the city, he said. There wasn’t a wind gauge, but he could see flags whipping around.

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A lot of things have changed since he started, he said. Not only is he in a new building, but technology has taken great leaps including the biggest change, computers.

Now, he’s 67, tired and as ready as he can be to leave the office, he said. It’s hard for anyone to retire, but it’s time, he said.

The farming community is going to miss him and his contributions to the community, said Farm Bureau President Mark McBroom.

“Typically his forecasts have been very well-appreciated,” he said.

McBroom is used to calling in to the county’s weather hot line to get Christopherson’s report every morning, he said. It was a big help during the freezes in 2007 by keeping the farmers prepared.

“Farming is all about weather,” he said. “What we do, we have to know what we’re up against.”

Weather influences when sprays are applied to crops, when hay is cut and when harvesting can happen, he said.

For now, the Internet will have to be best farmers can do, McBroom said.

Christopherson’s leaving is an “end of an era,” said county Agricultural Commissioner Stephen Birdsall.

Meteorologists have been stationed in the county since 1930, and Christopherson has been here for 35 years, he said.

“I think he’s provided a good service to the county with his weather forecast,” he said.

Instead of just getting an overall view of the Valley, Christopherson offered microclimates of different areas in the county, Birdsall said. It’s beneficial to get the close-up look, not just the big picture.

As of now, there are no plans to bring in a new meteorologist, Birdsall said. The Imperial Irrigation District has shown interest in hiring a new meteorologist, and the Board of Supervisors would also have to decide whether to pay its portion of the salary.

>> Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at evarin@ivpressonline.com or 760-337-3441.

AT A GLANCE

Agriculture meteorologists in Imperial County

Fred A. Baughman — 1930-1936

Woodrow C. Jacobs — 1937-1940

R. Roy Simpson — 1941-1950

Bill Allen — 1951-1958

Harold C. Harvey — 1959-1960

Bill Allen — 1961-1974

Jim Christopherson — 1975-1996*

*The National Weather Service reorganized its forecast program in 1996 and moved meteorologists to San Diego and Los Angeles. Christopherson stayed in the county under the County Agricultural Commissioner’s office and Imperial Irrigation District.

ELIZABETH VARIN PHOTO
Local meteorologist Jim Christopherson checks records for the hottest day of the year on Wednesday, his last day before retiring.
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