NWS Jacksonville » WeatherFest 2011 Wrap-up

Inaugural NWS Jacksonville WeatherFest 2011

The NWS Jacksonville proudly hosted our first ever WeatherFest at the University of North Florida on February 26, 2011. We joined with over 20 emergency response, military, education and media partners to share our knowledge of local weather hazards and how to best respond and prepare for each with the public we all serve. An estimated 700 people attended WeatherFest and engaged in a variety of activities ranging from touching a simulated tornado to climbing through a helicopter. There was something for everyone to experience and learn at WeatherFest. In 2012, WeatherFest will likely be hosted by the NWS Tallahassee office in Tallahassee, Florida, with a return to Jacksonville in 2013.

NWS Jacksonville would like to extend our sincerest thanks to our WeatherFest partners and attendees! You all made it a fun success!

National Weather Service Highlights

The NWS Jacksonville offered many fun and interactive ways to learn about local weather and to meet the behind the scenes NWS meteorologists who issue life-saving severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings for the local area. The large NWS exhibition room hosted over 25 NWS posters, each focused on a different NWS program or local weather hazard. To make the poster room more interactive, NWS Jacksonville created a fun crossword puzzle game based on the various posters. Exhibition room attendees travled around the room looking for clues to complete their crosswords. After a random crossword drawing, one weather-wise attendee won our NWS emergency supply kit, complete with a NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio.

Other NWS displays and demonstrations included upper air balloon launches, tropical weather presentations, and the Weather Lingo! game.  Additionally, the Southeast River Forecast Center ran flooding simulations using their watershed model.

The Radar Models
Radar Models
The Watershed Model
SE River Forecast Center
NWS Expo Room
NWS Expo Room
Pictures Courtesy of Sara Presnall and Art Wildman

Upper Air Balloon Station
Upper air balloon
Upper Air Balloon Launch
Upper air balloon launch
Balloon & Radiosonde Release
Balloon & radiosonde release
Pictures Courtesy of Robin Ingram, Sara Presnall, and Art Wildman


Military Highlights

The day started around 9:45 am when the U.S. Coast Guard HITRON helicopter landed in the UNF amphitheater space. Ground contact LTJG Bill Andrews corresponded with LTCR Dan Broadhurst in the cockpit for a flawless landing. The entire HITRON crew manned their craft throughout the anomalously hot day as intrigued families ventured over for a closer look. The HITRON crew concluded WeatherFest as well with a crowd stopping take off around 5 pm that day. With a tip of the nose over the amphitheater space, the HITRON crew headed back to their local base.

The Camp Blanding Weather Training Readiness Training Center (WRTC) brought a mobile weather station and displayed it in the amphitheater along side some of their field equipment. The team alongside of TSgt Garrett Palmer answered questions and provided equipment demonstrations regarding the acquisition of critical weather data in hostile areas for our military.


U.S. Coast Guard JAX HITRON Unit
Camp Blanding WRTC Crew
Camp Blanding WRTC
Air Guard Equipment Demo
Air National Guard equipment demo
Pictures Courtesy of Robin and Rob Ingram


Emergency Service Partners

Many critical emergency service partners from across north Florida joined the NWS at WeatherFest. The Florida Department of Emergency Management and Duval County Emergency Management were present to share hazard preparedness recommendations. The American Red Cross, Civil Air Patrol, Florida Department of Forestry, and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) were present to promote hazard preparation and appropriate response. Local emergency support groups including the Jacksonville Skywarn HAM Radio Club, Duval County Amateur Radio Emergency Service Organization, and the Flagler County REACT team were present to demonstrate how the general public can participate in their home communities in emergency preparedness, response, and relief efforts.

Local media outlets, including the major Jacksonville broadcast stations First Coast News WJXX/WTLV, WAWS, and Channel 4 WJXT, are critical emergency service partners, especially to the NWS when severe weather threatens our area. The NWS meteorologists issue the severe weather watches and warnings, but the familiar faces of local broadcast station meteorologists are the ones that televise the severe weather events and help you interpret the warning message. All three of our local chief meteorologists- Tim Deegan, Mike Buresh, and John Gaughan -  participated in a weather panel discussion, moderate by NWS Jacksonville Meteorologist-in-Charge, Steve Letro. Casual conversation led to many eye-opening facts and entertaining stories from the TV meteorologists. Barometer Bob Brookens of the Barometer Bob Show attended WeatherFest and interviewed several participants at WeatherFest, including Fox 30 WAWS Meteorologist Jamie Warriner. What did they chat about? The weather, of course!

Duval County Emergency Management
Duval County Emergency Management
Florida Division of Forestry
Florida Division of Forestry
HAM Radio
HAM Radio
Pictures Courtesy of Robin and Rob Ingram


Education Partners

Numerous and diverse educational partners attended WeatherFest, ranging from the Jacksonville Museum of Science and History (MOSH) to the University of Florida Advanced Coastal Engineering Systems Lab (ACES). MOSH had many educational and fun hands-on weather-related experiments and demonstrations for kids including a Van de Graaff generator and a tornado simulator. The University of Florida ACES Lab and Wind Research Group presented models of their storm surge research.

The Florida Climate Center and the North Florida Chapter of the American Meteorological Society traveled from the Florida State University to help excite WeatherFest attendees about local weather and to share Florida weather knowledge. A couple of data and research collection organizations attended and displayed some of their meteorological equipment, including the UF Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN) and the UNF Advanced Weather Information Systems and Environmental Monitoring, Mapping, Analysis, and Planning Systems Labs. Local weather enthusiasts Rob and Robin Ingram brought a variety of home weather stations to display and demonstrate.

MOSH Tornado Simulator
MOSH tornado simulator
UF FAWN Weather Station
UF FAWN weather station
Various Weather Instruments
weather instruments
Pictures Courtesy of Matt Enyedi, Robin Ingram

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