17 July 2013

Storm Chasing Class

As I begin to seriously prepare for our life to be turned upside down by a lovely little girl being welcomed into our family soon (aka my due date is approaching), I decided one of the things I wanted to do was post old blog posts that I had started but never seemed to finish. (Would you call this internet nesting?!)

Anyway, this post is about the National Weather Services' Storm Chasing Class Oliver took on February 5, 2013.  Sorry it's only 5 months late...but better late that never! :)

Oliver is SO excited to learn all about tornadoes!

The training was held at the Emergency Services Education Center in Waco.

The class was amazing!  We got to watch tons of tornado videos and learn about the formation of a severe thunderstorm.

The class was filled mainly of men, most in their 30's-80's.  However, Oliver wasn't the only child (although he may have been the youngest).  A Cub Scouts/Boy Scouts group came to the free presentation annually put on by the National Weather Service.  It was an excellent opportunity to learn about meteorology, for child and adults alike.

Although the children enjoyed it, the class was not for kids.  It was a class that educated the public on how to be a Storm Spotter.  A storm spotter is someone who watches severe weather and reports to the National Weather Service (NWS) what he or she sees on the ground.  The NWS explained over and over how important storm spotters are as they often confirm the storm is behaving on the group similarly to the way the meteorologists see the storm behaving on radar.

Mark Fox is a great meteorologist and someone we consider our friend.  We originally met him at Baylor when we just happened upon a table that he was hosting for the Baylor students.  Mark was great talking with Oliver and even invited us to come up to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth (a very cool experience).  So, it was fun to see him again and listen to him give most of the day's presentation.  He was entertaining as well as extremely informative.

Oliver and I learned about overshooting tops, anvil clouds, stacked plates, beaver tails and shelf clouds!  I had no idea how important these types of clouds or cloud movements are to recognizing a severe thunderstorm (guess I just looked for rain and lightening). :)

During the break,

During the break, Oliver took his books to National Weather Service meteorologist Nick Hampshire to ask several questions.  Nick was really wonderful with him.  Nick seemed quite impressed by Oliver's knowledge and interest.  Nick shared with me that he, too, had been bit by the "meteorology bug" at a young age, like Oliver, and had followed his interest to do meteorology as a career.

Mr. Mark and Oliver (wearing his tornado shirt)

Mr. Nick and Oliver

I brought a few of Oliver's tornado books to look at during the presentation.

I also brought colored pencils and paper so Oliver could draw and color tornadoes, which he did.

Most surprising to me was that most of the time, Oliver preferred to listen to the presentation, even if a lot of it was over his head.

I'll be honest, I thought it was fascinating.  I am glad I was the one who took Oliver this year.  I'll probably beg to be the parent (of the two of us) to bring him back.  I feel like I am so highly trained to spot a severe thunderstorm now! :)

At the end of the presentation, the National Weather Service brought in all three local TV stations' meteorologists who spoke about their role in communicating to the community during severe weather situations.

And, to our surprise, Oliver and I learned there is a local storm chasing group out of Waco.  Too bad we never seem to get tornadoes around here!

This group of volunteer Storm Chasers work with Waco's News10 KWTX-TV station when it comes to tracking severe weather.  We really enjoyed getting to talk to this trio and see their pretty cool SUV.

The team even let Oliver sit in the SUV.  Although Oliver prefers "The Dominator," he really enjoyed getting to see all of their tools inside the car.

Oliver was able to meet News25 TV meteorologist Conley Isom after the presentation.  Conley is a really nice guy and knows a lot about tornadoes.  He answered several of Oliver (and Mom's) questions.

Afterwards, Oliver got to see News Channel 25's "Storm Interceptor" van.  (I'll be honest, though, I have no desire to ever been in a mini van when it comes to "intercepting" a "storm".)

I don't have a picture of the neat little certificate we were provided by the National Weather Service after the session but I will add that picture to the post later.  Overall, this was such a great experience for Oliver.

I am so thankful for the National Weather Service, for not just putting on this day of education for the public, but for doing all that they do everyday to keep us safe from severe weather and thunderstorms.  Most importantly, I appreciate all of those sweet men and women who took time to nurture my son's love of storms and to encourage him to keep learning lots of math and science!

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