A climatologist retires, still uncertain about the climate

We’ve never met a state climatologist we didn’t like — or any climatologist for that matter — and we suspect Harry Hillaker would continue the streak. Alas, he’s retiring as Iowa’s climatologist, the Des Moines Register says.

There’s something comforting about seeing the state’s climatology records are kept in file cabinets… on paper. So old school.

Hillaker got the gig in the ’80s and is only the second person to be the state’s climatologist.

Get this straight: He’s not a meteorologist. It’s not Hillaker’s job to tell you whether it will be sunny and 70 Saturday so you can grab a six-pack and head for the park.

He doesn’t even watch TV, let alone have a favorite local weather celebrity.

Think of him, he said, as a “weather librarian” who cares for data stretching back to the Civil War and before. There even were Army surgeons stationed at forts who recorded weather records in the early 1800s.

The meteorologist’s job in recent decades has been fine-tuned by Super Doppler Mega Defcon Blastoid Radar — or whatever they’re calling it these days — that enables more accurate five-day forecasts.

But Hillaker’s job of predicting the broad trends of entire seasons is not much easier.

That would require “data in places that doesn’t exist,” he explained. That means measurements not from satellites but near the ocean surface, around the globe.

On his way out the door, by the way, Hillaker makes no declarations about climate change. He tells the paper he wants to see more data.