Saturday, October 6, 2007

My Weather Field Trip

OH BOY! Today, the National Weather Service Office in Romeoville, IL had an open house! I LOVE, love, love weather. I love rain storms, snow storms, wind storms, cloudy days, drizzly days, and an occasional nice day. Most of all, I love the radar. I don't know why. There's something about that lit up screen of oncoming storms that makes me skip a beat. Call me a nerd, go ahead I don't mind! So, when I heard that the National Weather Center of Chicago was having an open house, I was all over it!

This center services 10 million people, that's right I said million, and 23 counties of the Chicago Land area! It is located in Romeoville which is about 45 minutes southwest of downtown Chicago. Today, they had us in groups of about 20 and gave us an hour tour of the inside and outside.

Holy Shmoly! There it is. This meteorologist is reading radar from 4 screens at one time. Can you see Lake Michigan on 2 of the screens? This is the very point at which he determines whether or not to issue a warning that interrupts our TV program with that loud, "beeep, beeeep, beeeep..." He does so with the touch of an enter key on the computer, such power! I love the fact that they can dress casual here, with such stress, they need to be in comfort.

Beautiful RADAR. Radar on all three screens! Radar!
Strangely enough, I wasn't allowed to bring my purse in here for security purposes but I can take whatever pictures I want. Huh? I was sooo glad cameras were allowed. And where do they get all of this wonderful radar information?

Here it is, the mother radar. It looks like a big soccer ball in the sky. If you look close, you can see it is pieced in sections. I wouldn't want to be the guy that has to climb those stairs everyday! It is constantly pulling information down and the delay time to what actually is happening is only 5 minutes.

In front, they had some information signs on notable weather we have had in the past. This one describes the Chicago Heatwave of 1995. In July, the temperature reached 106 degrees at Midway Airport. They don't have to remind me, I was 8 months pregnant and in misery! I know I just gained sympathy from all the Mamas out there! We had scorching temperatures for many weeks. Sadly, many people lost their lives.

Here we will conclude with a show stopper. This really cool demo model is showing us how they control too much rain water from flooding the town. The right side is controlled by the computer and a trained professional, the left side it controlled by children in three stages: first rain water from the clouds, second water collecting by the dam, lastly, the levy before the town gets it. Needless to say, whenever the children took over the controls, the town was wiped out and a national disaster was declared! It was too cute.

When I was in high school I had two interests, science and art. As an adult I have two interests, art and science. For some reason, I always thought something like this was out of my reach. I was forever intimidated by science and math thinking I would never be smart enough to go further, so don't waist my energy. Boy what a mistake! We need to throw out all our negative thinking before it hold you down!

Hope you enjoyed the field trip!