Longtime National Weather Service employee in Seattle to retire after 40 years

Ted Buehner checks out the latest forecast charts at the National Weather Service office in Seattle (Photo: Brian Calvert, KOMO News)

SEATTLE -- After serving the area for 40 years, a local weatherman is calling it a career, and what a career it’s been.

Meteorologist Ted Buehner is retiring in January from the National Weather Service in Seattle. As one of the main media liaisons, you've like seen him on news stories or heard his voice on the radio.

He's had quite the career with the National Weather Service's Seattle office, thanks to a bug that bit on Columbus Day, 1962 when he was six years old.

"That storm blew through the Portland area, I had 160 trees down on my street alone," he remembered. "Power out for 10 days. It sparked that 'Why does that happen?' question."

Buehner says experiencing a major weather event is how most weather watchers get interested in the field.

The weather just might be the most popular conversation topic, even for the non-weatherman. Ted says it always happens when he's in the checkout line. A customer and the clerk start chatting, and 9 times out of 10, it has something to do with weather.

"And here I am a meteorologist a few feet away literally tuned in to this conversation with a little bit of a grin on my face," he said.

Buehner has been a fixture on both KOMO NewsRadio and on KOMO-TV and has been an integral part of our annual Weather Education Day event with the Seattle Mariners.

Buehner has won an award for seeing an Oregon wind storm in 1991 that the computer models missed, and he's been honored enhancing tsunami warning systems and supporting rescue efforts in the wake of the Oso landslide. But it seems the things he'll remember most about his career are those events that made history around here -- like the event of May 18th, 1980 when Mt. St. Helens erupted.

"I was on duty; I was working the aviation forecast desk," he said. "We had a red phone -- the red phone never rang. Well at 8:32 that morning, it rang. And it was one of those 'uh oh' moments. Picked up the phone and talked to the air route traffic control center down in Auburn... they shut down the air space..."

But Ted, is there anything you wish you could do over? You know, a second chance?

"You could say that for just about any snow event here in Western Washington," he said. "Snow around here is like a near miss accident on Interstate 5. You have to have everything lined up just right to make it happen."

As he retires, Ted will spend more time with the grandkids and do some traveling, but we're convinced you'll likely never be able to take the weather geek out of him.

"It's been an exciting 40+ year career - making a difference in helping save lives and property! To me, that effort is what it is all about!"

Happy Retirement, Ted! We'll miss you!

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