Your National Weather Service in Brownsville has been out and about in the community dozens of times in 2009! In addition to large, well advertised events such as the Air Fiesta, our staff could be found training storm spotters, helping students discover careers in meteorology, providing decision support during a simulated hurricane, handing out weather information to thousands at hurricane fairs, and giving tours of the office to several groups. The following are brief summaries of just some of the activities through early June.
What a season! In more than a dozen classes, NWS Brownsville staff has trained more than 200 new spotters across the RGV and portions of Deep South Texas. From Zapata to South Padre Island, and many places in between, these newly trained, and in several cases, recertified, storm spotters have already proved vital to our operations, providing vital ground truth during several bouts of severe weather between mid April and early June. We thank all who attended for your interest and feedback, and are grateful to our varied community partners for all their support in making this training season a smashing success!
NWS Brownsville SkywarnTM Coordinator Joseph Tomaselli discussing tornado look alikes to students at the McAllen Emergency Operations Center
Warning Coordination Meteorologist Barry Goldsmith (front row, second from left) posing with agricultural and hunting instructors from Texas Parks and Wildlife
Hundreds of local school children were introduced to the ways of NWS, including career fairs and office tours. Data Program Manager Jim Campbell led two tours, including a group of advanced science students from Brownsville’s Hanna High and a bright group of hearing impaired students from Olvera Middle School. Forecasters Mike Castillo and Buddy Martin, along with Hydrometeorological Technician Fred Vega, attended a career fair at Resaca Middle School. Mr. Martin accompanied Warning Coordination Meteorologist Barry Goldsmith to the annual Lyford Career Fair (below), which at least 100 students stopped by to inquire about what it takes to be a meteorologist, as well as an overview of operations.
Forecaster Buddy Martin explaining how NWS Brownsville employees serve the public each day at the Lyford ISD Career Fair, May, 2009
Senior Forecaster Geoff Bogorad handing out information to a youngster at the Brownsville Farmer’s Market
Those who have stepped into some of the Lower RGV's shopping malls, or two of the H–E–B stores in Brownsville, or the Brownsville Farmer’s Market, may have encountered some of our friendly staff, or picked up literature on hurricanes, flooding, rip currents, food safety, etc. In April, Senior Forecaster Geoffrey Bogorad began a bi weekly booth to distribute weather information and discuss the latest long range forecasts to shoppers and local farmers. The NWS booth continues until the end of the 2009 market season on July 4th. In early June, we branched out to serve the local Simon Malls for their 2009 Hurricane Expo. Five staffers, including Meteorologist In Charge Nezette Rydell, Warning Coordination Meteorologist Barry Goldsmith, Forecaster Joseph Tomaselli, and Meteorological Intern Rob Hart, served information and knowledge to thousands of visitors at La Plaza Mall in McAllen, Rio Grande Valley Outlets in Mercedes, and Valle Vista Mall in Harlingen. On the same day, Forecaster Mike Castillo did the same at the H–E–B store near the heart of Brownsville, and hundreds of brochures were handed out by H–E–B employees at the busy location in central Brownsville.
After the multi–mall events of June 6th, more followed. On June 20th, Rob Hart and Barry Goldsmith served hundreds of shoppers at the Lowe’s of Brownsville Hurricane Clinic. On July 1st, Science and Operations Officer Jeral Estupiñán gave a preparedness talk en Español to 100 home healthcare employees, critical to the special needs population of Cameron County. On July 11th, Forecaster Ryan Vipond joined Barry Goldsmith at the first annual Hidalgo County "Dare to Prepare" Disaster Preparedness Expo, which drew up to 2,000 residents to the McAllen Convention Center (below). On July 16th, Forecaster Joseph Tomaselli joined Meteorologist in Charge Nezette Rydell for the City of Brownsville Hurricane Fair.
Warning Coordination Meteorologist Barry Goldsmith worked closely with members of the Lower Rio Grande Valley emergency management community, in conjuction with the Texas Engineering Extension Service, developed "Hurricane Barry" a hurricane simulating Hurricane Beulah in 1967, with an added twist of a higher storm surge for the Town of South Padre Island and nearby locations in coastal Cameron County. On June 2nd, Goldsmith injected real time impact information into the exercise, known as HUREX 2009, using briefings and WebEOC® "blogs" to update participating partners from the City of Brownsville (below). Goldsmith later attended an after action review at the City of McAllen’s Emergency Operations Center on June 3rd.
Photo of the City of Brownsville’s Emergency Operations Center during HUREX 2009.