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Roxx's Session Chatter

National Weather Service Tour

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This weather is driving me crazy. This weather…wait, I know someone who works for the National Weather Service! Why did it not cross my mind until now to do a field trip? I have cabin fever, they have something interesting. What do all those graphics mean? Where does Scott Dorval get some of his information? Here’s a quick video tour of what’s behind the checkpoints at Boise National Weather Service, with a great tour from Meteorologist Megan Thimmesch .


Here’s the video of the tour. At the very least, zip to 5:00 to watch the weather balloon launch! Hydrogen looks fun. .



Interesting things learned?


  • Weather balloons are filled with hydrogen, which is lighter than air, so they can go to high altitudes.
  • Weather Watch? Don't panic, but listen There's a chance something bigger could develop.. Weather Advisory? Pay attention.. Weather WARNING? It’s on like Donkey Kong, do what they say! 

  • I’m still wrapping my head around “High and Low Pressure.” This was a big can of worms for me to ask about. Why does every TV weather person bring this up…yet few of us have any idea what they are really talking about other than we see an “H” or “L” on the screen as their hands gesture a storm moving in or out? It helped that it was somewhat described as a cone, vertical pressure with peaks and valleys. I realize this isn’t a quick answer. For years I’ve tried to understand lingo like “cells,” “troughs,” and “fronts.” The new word for me on this tour, was “Millibars.” More info here. My brain hurts.  
  • I've noticed our local radar is not at the airport, it’s out by the wild horse corrals near the prison. I mean, right there. It’s strange.  Anyway, I learned that the direction of these radar towers is incrementally up and out, like an upside down cone. This means if there is a great distance between towers, the radar patterns may not pick up certain lower clouds and storms.

The National Weather Service needs volunteers and storm trackers. Here’s one way you can help.

CoCoRaHS is an acronym for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.  CoCoRaHS is a unique, non-profit, community-based network of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow).   By using low-cost measurement tools, stressing training and education, and utilizing an interactive Web-site, their aim is to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education and research applications. They are now in all fifty states.


There are more factors involved in predicting the weather than you can possibly imagine, and this is why no one is 100% accurate. Here’s my less-than-scientific understanding of why this is. Our atmosphere breathes and exhales, is ever-changing and is very alive. The storms cleanse our often dirty valley air, so it’s important to remember they are good for us. Our forecasters do they best they can to predict the future. More often than not they are right, but it’s difficult to hit a moving target. Our weather predictions are based on many people, many computers, many numbers crunched, and many hours spent doing so. It is obvious these people are passionate. If your office, group, or organization would like a tour, contact them.


Warning Coordinator Meteorologist Jay P. Breidenbach is a huge fan of “The River,” and the office provided warm and kind hospitality! Thanks to Megan, and all the staff of our National Weather Service for letting me stop by.


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Nampa, ID

WSW at 6 mph

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