Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Severe Storms Symposium

Almost a decade ago when I was wearing Chaser pull-ups and going to the spotter meetings, I heard about the big show.  Now mind you, it's not as colossal as some of the bigger storm conferences, but for a local meet-up, it kicks a lot of ass. 

My first year, I met Roger Hill.  The conversations were over my head, but the people were genuine.  The last few years I've tried to make it up, but it's been more hit than miss due to weather, sickness, babies, and all of life's reasons that make you miss some great things.

This year I made it and had a great time.
 Lawrence, KS is the home of KU. In addition to being a college town, it has a very laid back and great air to the city. While walking down main street under the light of a huge full moon a UFO summit was being held. Didn't see any green men for the exception of a frat boy with a little too much beer.

I found my old haunt, The Red Lyon Tavern, had a shot of Jamesons and a pint of Smithwick's for my friends no longer with me.  Not that they are dead, just the business of life in a college town, they've moved on.  This place has board games laying around and Tobasco to heap on popcorn (trust me, try it).
Ah Conspiracy Theories and full moons go together like steak and eggs.

I called it an early night.  One criticism about the Severe Weather Symposium, it starts early.
The next morn, I headed to the Center for the Arts in Lawrence.  I milled about looking for familiar faces and talked a lot to complete strangers, I'm decent at marketing.  The Symposium began with a local KC weatherman, Joe Lauria, talking about the Greensburg tornado and what would happen if it hit near KC. 
 Answer: all Hell would break lose.

One of the more sobering discussions, although I've always enjoyed Joe Lauria from Fox in KC. 
 During the break, I saw Tim Samaras from The Discovery Channel's Storm Chaser.  Yeah, I asked for a picture.  Tim was very gracious.  He presented some of the research that he's doing on lightning and tornados, as a guy with a science background . . . I'm impressed and fascinated.

Tim Samaras and myself

I also met a meteorologist from the Severe Storm Lab in Norman, OK that has sent some educational things that I will use in the classroom.  Special thanks to Severe Studios ( that held a raffle in memory of Matt Hughes.  I won a strip of Sean Casey's "Tornado Alley" IMAX film.

One thing of interest is the southern part of Douglas County (were Lawrence resides) went under a severe thunderstorm warning during the Symposium.   A crowd made up of emergency managers, storm chasers, and media thinned fairly quick and went to work.

It was a great weekend.  I highly recommend the conference for those interested in weather.  Not just chasing.  Education never hurts.  Now if we can only have storms. . .

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