5th Annual Severe Awareness Day A Huge Success!

On Saturday February 26th, the National Weather Service in Lubbock and the student chapter of the American Meteorological Society at Texas Tech University co-hosted the 5th annual Severe Weather Awareness Day at the Science Spectrum Museum & OMNI Theater in Lubbock. This year’s event was the largest to date, drawing over 1,500 people from the city of Lubbock and surrounding areas. It was a wonderful opportunity to educate the public on various topics in meteorology and discuss severe weather safety and preparedness. The event was particularly geared towards children, but there were plenty of exhibits and events for anyone who was interested in meteorology.

NWS Meteorologists Andrew Pritchett, Matthew Ziebell, Jerald Meadows, Joseph Jurecka, Justin Weaver, and Jody James participated in Severe Weather Awareness Day. These meteorologists interacted with the public and discussed the products and services that the Lubbock Forecast Office provides to the citizens of the South Plains each day. The booth featured videos promoting weather awareness and safety practices, live satellite and radar data, and hands on demonstrations with a tornado simulator.

Meteorologist Andrew Pritchett gave two severe weather education and safety talks aimed at children. The talks discussed the type of work that a NWS meteorologist does, the science behind some of the severe weather that occurs across the South Plains, and ways citizens can protect themselves should severe weather come their way. The audience also learned about the different dangers associated with thunderstorms such as lightning, hail, straight line winds, tornadoes, and flash floods. NWS meteorologists discussed the issues posed by residents living in the heart of tornado alley, the importance of having a plan in place and knowing how to take action if a warning is issued, and the benefit of having a NOAA Weather/All Hazards Radio in your home, school, or business. 

Warning Coordination Meteorologist Jody James also gave a SKYWARN Storm Spotter class to those who were interested in becoming NWS spotters. The class discussed the basics of thunderstorm development, fundamentals of storm structure, how to identify potential severe weather features, what type of information to report to the NWS, and basic severe weather safety. There will be many more spotter talks coming up in the next couple of months and we will be coming to a town near you! The complete schedule for the Spring 2011 spotter training season can be found here!

Meteorologist Jerald Meadows helped to facilitate tours of the NWS office (which is collocated at the Science Spectrum) at various times during the day. Each tour began with an introductory presentation on the history of the National Weather Service and the advances in meteorological technology through the years. Next, visitors were given a demonstration of the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) which NWS meteorologists use to analyze data when making forecasts and issuing warnings.  Finally, the visitors learned how a warning is issued and were given a demonstration of the NOAA Weather Radio CRS system.

The student chapter of the American Meteorological Society at Texas Tech University had several educational booths that dealt with various scientific principles of meteorology, which included some informative hands-on weather experiments. There were also several live weather demonstrations with a Van de Graaf generator, used to simulate lightning, and a tornado simulator provided by the National Weather Service. In addition, attendees were permitted to sit inside storm chasing vehicles, look at weather instrumentation from Texas Tech's Severe Storm Research Team, and view a mobile Doppler Radar.

Severe Weather Awareness Day was very well received by those in attendance at the event. Several mentioned how much they enjoyed the event, and that their understanding of severe weather had improved. Overall, this was a huge success for everyone involved and the staff of WFO Lubbock is eager to continue its efforts with promoting weather safety and providing the best possible services to the citizens of the South Plains!

NWS meteorologists Jody James, Andrew Pritchett, and Matthew Ziebell discuss severe weather safety with some folks that stopped by the NWS Lubbock booth.
Dr. Eric Bruning from Texas Tech University demonstrates the principle of lightning with a Van de Graaf generator.


NWS meteorologist Joseph Jurecka talks about some of the satellite and radar data that NWS meteorologists use to in the forecasting and warning process. NWS meteorologist Matthew Ziebell talks about the tornado simulator to a couple of interested children that stopped by the NWS Lubbock booth.

Meteorologist In Charge Justin Weaver is interviewed by KJTV/Fox 34 in Lubbock about the event and the importance of having a plan in place if a warning is issued by the NWS. Texas Tech graduate student  and NWS volunteer Brad Charboneau goes through the NWS warning decision simulator, a program that allows users to interrogate radar data like an NWS meteorologist would and issue mock "warnings" for different storms.


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