Brief chat with Marcus Landon Aydlett:
'An informed public is a prepared public'
By Louella Losinio
Marcus Landon Aydlett, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Guam, is a well-known face in Guam's meteorological and disaster preparedness community.
Alongside his brother William Brandon Aydlett, known as the Aydlett Brothers, they have become prominent figures in Guam's weather landscape, and are recognized for their community engagement and resilience efforts.
Landon, one-half of the weather twins, traces his meteorological passion back to the "Super Storm" of March 1993. This event, which struck the eastern U.S., marked a turning point for him. The intensity of the storm, with trees uprooting and snapping, fascinated him and fueled his interest in weather dynamics, and meteorology.
“After numerous other trees coming down that evening and overnight, spending the night sleeping in an interior closet with helmets on, freezing in 40-50 degree temperatures in a house without power, I was hooked. I wanted to know more about how weather can go from sunny and fair one day to violent and deadly the next," he said.
The movie "Twister" and meteorologist Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel further inspired his career choice. Meeting Cantore in 2018 only solidified his interest.
“Watching (Cantore) report weather around the nation during high-impact events. I envisioned myself being ‘on the scene’ for land-falling hurricanes and other weather events. I was excited to meet him for coffee in August 2018,” he said.
Tropical cyclones, whether hurricanes or typhoons, never fail to captivate Landon. He emphasizes the awe-inspiring power of nature, underscoring the importance of respecting its might, regardless of scientific knowledge.
"No matter how much science, technology and education one has, nature will always wow. Nature will always show up," he said.
Weather forecasting, especially during high-impact events like Typhoons Mawar and Bolaven, presents its challenges. Landon stresses the complexity of conveying uncertainties gracefully, particularly during these weather events, to enable communities to take informed actions.
“Typhoons Mawar and Bolaven this year were two recent examples in which a shift of 10 miles in one direction or another, can have profound impacts on a given location. With these events, you have to pull together all the best-available information to put out the best-available forecast and then communicate in as many ways possible to ensure everyone gets that information and in a way that the community understands that information,” he said.
On the topic of climate change, Landon said, "Considering I am more of a 5-7 day weatherman, as opposed to a 10-100 year climatologist, I can say this: the climate is changing, and the climate has been changing,” he said.
He acknowledges the ongoing shifts and recognizes the role of anthropogenic factors in current climate trends. While altering the course of the atmosphere entirely might be beyond human reach, he advocates for responsible stewardship.
“Can we change or alter the course of the atmosphere? Perhaps. Can we stop climate change? Not exactly. In general, we should always strive to be better stewards of the land and our resources. We have only this one Earth,” he said.
Bringing the issue closer to home, Landon expresses concerns about Guam and the region's vulnerabilities. He emphasizes the urgency of mitigating these vulnerabilities, focusing on rising sea levels, rainfall variability, and the constant threat of typhoons. Building, planning, and preparing with weather and climate in mind are crucial, ensuring safety and security even in the face of nature's worst.
Inclusivity in meteorological initiatives is a passion for Landon. His outreach program, Weather-Ready Nation, exemplifies this commitment, enhancing communications, awareness, education, and outreach. His motto, "Just do it," drives him to seek partnerships actively, ensuring weather information reaches every corner of the community.
“Weather affects everyone everywhere, therefore our work should include everybody,” he said.
Collaboration stands as the cornerstone of weather resilience, according to Landon. Villages, families, organizations, and groups must unite. Education, awareness, and preparedness form the foundation, empowering an informed and prepared public – the best defense in times of disaster.
“We are isolated and the more effort that can go into education, awareness, and pre-event preparedness, the better prepared we will be across the community. An educated public is an informed public. And an informed public is a prepared public,” he said.
Beyond his professional responsibilities, Landon finds thrill in extreme weather experiences but always prioritizes safety. His interests also extend to community work and a unique hobby he calls "extreme Lincoln Logging."
While others create cabins, catapults, and forts from these notched pieces, he creates massive replicas of well-known structures. “I have several designs in place for future towers to build. These follow our June 2022 world record-breaking Willis Tower, and the September 2023 Twin Towers. Otherwise, I like to spend time with close friends and family," he said.
The Aydlett twins, known for their extreme Lincoln Logging endeavors, reached remarkable heights in 2022. Their structures, dubbed "Tower of Humanity," served a dual purpose – blending their passion with philanthropy. Through fundraising, they supported nonprofit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Be Heartfelt, embodying the spirit of community service.