(Left to right) Houston CWSU Meteorologists Andy McNeel and Chris McKinney, Meteorologist Intern Phil Kuhn, MIC Roland Nuñez and Meteorologist Intern Brian Haines (Photo: CWSU Houston)
(February 19, 2013) -- National Weather Service meteorologists from CWSU Houston toured numerous facilities at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Thursday, Feb. 7.
During a stop at the Air Traffic Control Center, the group was allowed to don headsets and listen to live conversations between air traffic controllers and pilots. Afterwards, the meteorologists visited the Houston Terminal Radar Approach Control facility where they got a hands-on introduction to managing air traffic and got to see first-hand how their aviation forecast products are used every day.
Next stop was the United Airline's ramp control and central operations center where they received valuable insight regarding direct logistical and financial impacts certain weather phenomena can have on operations in Houston and across the country; and how vital NWS forecast products are in planning for such impacts.
The meteorologists also visited the 330-foot tall airport traffic control tower where could get a visual, real-time appreciation for the way reduced visibilities, low ceilings and high winds can affect the tower's ability to manage departing and arriving aircraft.
"A lot of the time, it becomes easy for us, sitting behind an AWIPS workstation, to become desensitized to how our forecasts and products are put to work once we hit 'send,'" said Meteorologist Andy McNeel, outreach program leader for the Houston CWSU. "A large part of the responsibility in building a 'Weather-Ready Nation' falls on us as forecasters to have constant, unwavering understanding of and appreciation for the effects our products and services have on our customers and how they use them on a daily basis."
McNeel added, "These visits not only cement our relationships with our customers, but also fulfill a core requirement in being responsible forecasters by developing an understanding of how important our forecasts are to them."