A bit of biography  

 

The Weather or Not Pages

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June 15, 2006

This started out to be a few brief remarks but grew into a pseudo meteorological biography. I suggest that if something along those lines is not your cup of tea, then quickly escape by hitting your back button in your browser!


My interest in meteorology goes back to childhood and is traceable to a movie that I saw in elementary school, "Unchained Goddess" a 1956 Bell Science film about the weather directed by Frank Capra. Dr. Research (Frank Baxter), the star of the movie, also starred in my other elementary school science favorite,"Our Mister Sun".

In the sixth grade I was perusing the library shelves and found Peter Viemeister's book on lightning. This book had photos and stories that captured my imagination and restirred my interest in the weather. My passion for studying the weather has never waned since.

At Western Kentucky University I took a course in meteorology which took me to the next level of understanding. The formal course work, field experiences and lectures only whetted my appetite. However, more than ten years would pass before my next boost in interest, my encounter with an online service: Compuserve. In 1993 when I signed up for Compuserve, it was cutting edge technology long before AOL bought and degraded it. Once on Compuserve I discovered the Weather Forum. The many conversations and interractions within the confines of the Forum allowed many of us to learn more than we ever thought possible. We were introduced to raw meteorological data that had never before seen wide dissemination. There were a lot of us amateur meteorologists who thought we had died and gone to weather heaven. Surely nothing could top this!

We were wrong. Once Mosaic came out (March 1993) and allowed folks to "browse web pages", we were introduced to the next level: THE INTERNET. Mosaic became Netscape and the rest is history. The amount of meteorological data that is availaibe to the general public is staggering. You could literally drown in a flood of weather data.

During the early to mid 1990's I joined The American Weather Observer Supplemental Observation Network AWOSON and was given membership number 4573. AWOSON started in 1984 and published a substantial journal, "The American Weather Observer". The Observer contained features and weather data which made this journal a "must read" when it arrived in the mailbox. This publication is currently suspended and the organization is currently not active.

I also became an active member in the International Weather Watchers (IWW) and wrote book reviews and other articles for the "Weather Watcher Review". Thanks to Tim Vasquez of Weathergraphix and Digital Atmosphere fame the well organized and comprehensive observation manual is still available on the internet free of charge. This non-profit group of supercharged weather enthusiasts were an exciting bunch to be with. While they no longer have an active web site, journal or internet presence, many of the IWW "veterans" are still active as amateur and professional meteorologists .

The third weather organization that I joined during the 1990's was The National Weather Association. This professional nonprofit organization has been around for over twenty five years. They offer a two tier membership structure giving full time students a break in membership dues. They publish the prestigious The National Weather Digest a technical journal focusing upon Operational Meteorology as well as correspondence and the official news of the Association.

I became interested in Skywarn during the 1980's and attended my first training session at a local television studio. The Skywarn training educates folks to become trained tornado and severe thunderstorm spotters. Spotters then relay their reports on severe weather conditions to the local (here it is Birmingham) office of National Weather Service (NWS). During the last decade I've attended several more training sessions and became involved (for a time) with a local group, The Alabama Emergency Response Team (ALERT). This superb group of dedicated individuals provides support for the amateur radio station at Birmingham's NWS office in Calera and is activated during times when severe weather is forecast.

There is no substitute for reality when it comes to weather.
I've been:
knocked down by thunderstorm downburst, coming from a radar indicated tornado,
sprayed from head to toe with hail blowing under a door during a tornadic thunderstorm. walked/slogged through flooded streets of New Orleans during tropical storm Bill
buried by the blizzard of 1993.
blinded by a Great Plains dust storm while living on top of a mountain in Tennessee.
pounded by a hail storm that required replacement of every panel on the car.

I'll bet that you have had as many (if not more) exciting weather stories to tell!


These web pages, The Weather or Not pages were created to highlight quality weather sites. Redundant sites are listed to assure availability at all times. The goal is to present logically grouped web sites that allow anyone to quickly and accurately gain a clear view of the weather and how it may affect their plans. Success will likely be by degrees (pun intended). The site will continue to evolve as time and circumstances allow. Thanks for visiting. Feel free to email your comments.

Rod Scott