National Weather Center hosts festival

National Weather Center hosts festival

National Weather Center hosts festival

Visiters move from booth to booth around a large globe displaying active weather patterns around the planet during the annual National Weather Festival hosted by the National Weather Center in Norman Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014.

National Weather Center hosts festival

National Weather Center hosts festival

Dozens of children help release a weather balloon during the annual National Weather Festival hosted by the National Weather Center in Norman Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014.



Posted: Sunday, November 2, 2014 12:15 am

National Weather Center hosts festival

By Sarah Kirby
Transcript Staff Writer

Norman Transcript

On Saturday morning, the public poured into the National Weather Center in Norman for the annual National Weather Festival.

The National Weather Festival highlighted the many weather-related organizations and activities in central Oklahoma, featuring hourly weather balloon launches, children’s activities, storm research vehicle displays, amateur radio demonstrations, a Storm Chaser Car Show and weather-related information and products.

Guests were invited to tour the Radar Innovations Laboratory, which opened in late October, in addition to the mobile radar trucks on display in the parking lot of the facility.

The open house event was held in conjunction with the 20th anniversary celebration of the Oklahoma Mesonet, a network of 120 automated environmental monitoring stations covering Oklahoma. There is at least one Mesonet station in each of Oklahoma’s 77 counties.

According to Dr. Kevin Kloesel, the Director of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, the celebration is meant to thank those whose contributions made the creation of the Mesonet possible — including organizations like the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association

“We’ve had a great number of people who were with us when we put these weather stations out 20 years ago come to visit us. Legislators from the Oklahoma legislature who helped fund us all those years ago came to see what we’ve been doing,” Kloesel said. “Weather data is very important in a lot of different areas, and so we’re very happy they’re here to celebrate our 20th anniversary with us.”

Following the May 2013 tornadoes, festival organizers invited meteorologists from local TV stations and first responders to answer questions related to severe weather and storm safety.

Melissa Bird, the public relations and marketing manager for The National Weather Center in the University of Oklahoma College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences, said these experts help educate and assuage the fears that people may have as the state’s stormier seasons approach.

“We want to make sure that the general public can come in and ask the questions they may not be able to ask everyday but are on their minds,” she said. “One of the things we try to say is ‘don’t be scared, be prepared.’ This is our opportunity to help prepare the general public in a way that they don’t normally receive.”

Channel 9 meteorologist Justin Rudicel met viewers and explained how he works to forecast the weather at the festival. He said he liked seeing people of all ages attend the annual event to learn more about the weather.

“People have a passion when they have their questions answered,” Rudicel said. “It comes full-circle for me because I was definitely in their shoes.”

Sixteen-year-old Dustin Saltzman, who attends Edmond Memorial High School, went to the National Weather Festival for a third consecutive year. Saltzman said he hopes to pursue meteorology as a profession and attends the event because it teaches him more about weather.

“I’ve been really interested in severe weather for years now — especially thunderstorms,” Saltzman said. “I just find all sorts of weather things interesting. That’s why I decided to come.”


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Sunday, November 2, 2014 12:15 am.


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