Meet the Meteorologists: Mark Hoekzema

  • Nov 07, 2018

If you work with Earth Networks or follow us on social media, you’ve probably heard the name Mark Hoekzema quite a lot. Mark is our Chief Meteorologist, Director of Meteorological Operations here at Earth Networks.

You may know that about him already, but we’re sure there’s a lot about Mark Hoekzema you don’t know. Keep reading to learn more about Mark, what he does here (really) at Earth Networks, and how he and his team protect organizations from severe weather.

Mark Hoekzema: The Meteorologist

The first thing you should know about Mark is his professional experience is seemingly endless. Mark has been a meteorologist, in his own words,”for a long, long time.” He graduated with his B.S. in Meteorology in 1985 and M.S. in 1989.

Of course, it was his childhood that shaped his initial interest in the subject. Growing up in Seattle, Mark was always doing a lot of boating, fishing, and other outdoor activities. He always found himself wondering what the weather was going to be and if it would be nice enough for him to get his activities in. To help with this effort, he got a marine band and weather radio at age 8 and found it fascinating.

We were lucky enough to have Mark come on board here at Earth Networks in 2000. For 15 years before that, Mark worked at NBC4 WRC-TV in Washington, DC. If you’re from the area – think back. Maybe you used to get the weather from Mark every day on TV! Fun fact: This station was one of Earth Networks (known as AWS at the time) first clients.

When Mark first started here he was a product manager who oversaw TV web pages and desktop WeatherBug products. Along the way Mark became our subject matter expert for content and meteorology in our wide array of products.

In his role today, Mark Hoekzema supports product development, product management, and program management when a meteorologist is needed. A good part of his work week is also managing our 24/7 operations in MetOps (Meteorological Operations).

Mark’s responsibilities don’t end here, though. He is also an NWS liaison for data services and he also supports the sales and meteorological products and services. Not to mention, Mark is known to be the in-house oyster shucker at various Earth Networks events.

A Day In The Life

As Mark puts it: “The thing that you have to understand about working as a meteorologist is that every day is different – because the weather is different every day.”

The forecasters here will work all sorts of odd hours. The day starts for our forecasters by coming in and getting up to speed on what has transpired in the weather over the last 24 hours and how clients have been affected.

Once this is done, a forecaster will become situationally aware of the current weather and start doing analysis of the forecast data to get a picture for what the weather drivers will be over the next few days. Forecasters will come and go through a typical shift, so there is a transfer of client responsibilities that usually occurs in the first part of the shift.

Our meteorologists will need to develop forecasts for clients and/or monitor ongoing forecasts that might need updates through their entire shift. It can be fast and furious, but our team seems to like the challenge.

“Personally, I’m not doing much of this hands-on work as much anymore – and I admire the folks on my team that do this day to day. I also miss it sometimes because there is an adrenaline rush meteorologists will get as big events unfold and their forecasts start to validate.”

The days that are the best are the ones when Mark and his team get to forecast heat waves – NOT! We dare you to try and find a meteorologist that enjoys heat waves. They’re the worst.

In all honesty, Mark does enjoy days with severe weather forecasts. “I’ve always liked big weather events,” says Mark. To him, these include hurricanes, severe weather, and snowstorms.

“I’ve stayed overnight here at work a number of times because I got stuck due to a passing hurricane or raging snowstorms. It’s not hard to keep a meteorologist awake during a big weather event. Just add snacks and we’re all good!” You can read Mark’s take on building a hurricane preparedness guide for your business on CIO.com.

Mark Hoekzema: The Soccer Player

Yes, you read that right. Like the rest of our team, Mark has other interests besides weather. He’s been playing soccer since he was a little kid and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Even with all of his responsibilities here he still has time to score goals on two different soccer teams, which he plays on year-round.

Soccer isn’t the only thing you’ll find Mark doing in his free time. Mark is also an avid fisherman. “I love to fish – predominantly fly fish,” says Mark. Typically, you’ll find him doing that in the rivers of western Maryland. He loves to go out to the western U.S. and trout fish as well. He even has a log home in Deep Creek Lake and he makes an effort to spend time there.

When he’s not playing soccer or fly fishing, you might find Mark watching the History Channel. “I really like history, so I like to read non-fiction and historical fiction.” If you really want to impress Mark, you could take him out for his favorite food: A medium rare steak.

Working With People, Like Mark

In today’s day and age, it seems like mostly everything we do is automated. We use personal assistants from our technology devices to do everything from turning the lights on to ordering groceries. While technology is extremely helpful – especially when it comes to our real-time weather network and alerts – nothing beats talking to an actual person.

As you can see, Mark Hoekzema and the rest of the team are not only experts in meteorology but they are each their own individual person. They make real connections with our customers, which a lot of our clients are extremely happy with.

“One of the greatest aspects of working as a forecaster is that every day you have the chance to positively effect clients. We get very nice feedback from our clients. One of the best sources of feedback is that we have a 95% renewal rate of clients from year to year. This is a testament to the value of the hard work by the team.”

You can learn more about our MetOps team and how they can help your organization by clicking the link below.

LEARN MORE

Mark’s Favorite Part

So what’s Mark Hoekzema’s favorite part about being a meteorologist? It’s short and simple, but makes a lot of sense.

“The weather is different every day – it’s never boring.”

A common theme among our MetOps Team is that they enjoy the changes and challenges forecasting the weather brings. Loving what you do is important and we’re lucky to have such a passionate, hard-working crew of meteorologists.

If you have worked with Mark Hoekzema before or would like to drop him a note, please do so in the comments section below or on social media. We’d love to show Mark and the rest of the Meteorology Operations Team some love.

We still have a few more meteorologist to introduce so don’t miss them! Subscribe to our blog and get stories like this one delivered straight to your inbox.

 


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