Despite the chilly north winds yesterday, we had a large turnout for the 3rd Annual Severe Weather Awareness Day! An estimated 1000 people showed up to check out all the equipment and various weather related science exhibits the Texas Tech AMS group were showing off, much to the delight of kids both young and old.
As I mentioned before, we brought our chase vehicles out to let people get an up close look and ask all the questions they wanted about storm chasing. Texas Tech brought out their new mobile radar, which is very nice, and while I listened several times to Jerry Guynes (the guy that built it) talk about all the technical details, I am still trying to let my brain digest it. He’s an incredibly smart man when it comes to mobile radar, and his passion for what he does shows through. I felt like I came away “an order of magnitude” (as he likes to say) smarter just being in his presence! He is a faculty member of the Texas Tech Wind Science and Engineering team.
Ian Giamanco was displaying the Texas Tech Severe Storm Research Team’s “sticknets” and mobile mesonet. They have two trailers full of these things they can deploy in short order and take all the standard measurements. One survived the onslaught of Hurricane Ike planted on the Bolivar Peninsula even. All of these things are going to be a large part of Vortex 2 out this year. Storms will be surrounded, interrogated, probed and infiltrated by more scientific devices that ever before in our history this year!
Inside things were a little less technical but still fun, especially for the kids. The various simplified demonstrations of how weather works created a large crowd of big eyed kids. One kid that came out to check out the chase vehicle not only knew what GRLevel3 was (a radar program we use), but he has a copy of it and GRLevel2AE, and he knows how to use them. We had quite the discussion about placefiles and video streaming. I believe in the future we will see him out on the road chasing storms! Oh did I mention he was only about 10? (He didn’t tell me how old he was, I’m just guessing). I was very impressed!
Demonstrations showed various things, like how a tornado vortex might form, how to identify various types of clouds, how light refracts in the atmosphere, and they even had a miniature version of their Debris Impact Simulator. The South Plains Storm Spotting Team was on hand showing some great video from the big tornado day out here in 2007. The National Weather Service of course had a big presence, being that they are in the same building, and were giving guided tours of their offices, as well as a storm spotter class. The Red Cross was also on hand.
Last but not least, KCBD NewChannel 11 was of course there helping folks program their weather radios and answer questions about the new Digital TV switch, as well as John Robison, Steve Divine and Cary Allan, the meteorologists were there to talk to people and answer everyone’s questions about weather. Kids always enjoy a chance to meet their favorite on-air meteorologists they watch on TV all the time. John was handing door prizes and my chaser friend Steve Miller Amarillo won a NOAA Weather Radio.
The old IMAX “Storm Chasers” movie was also being shown in the IMAX theater. While it’s a bit outdated now, it was the first time I have seen it in an actual IMAX theater. The whole theater rumbled when the tornado came on stage! I noticed in one scene they were at an intersection only about 7 miles from my house!
What a great “weather weenie” day and it sure put me in the mood for severe weather season, which starts officially for me…TODAY!
I was able to get a number of interviews with various exhibitors at the Severe Weather Awareness Day, and have posted them on my YouTube Channel. There are 7 videos from this even in total: