Monday, September 29, 2008

NOAA National Weather Station - Melbourne
by Robin

For my son's First Lego League mission, they are studying Florida Climatology. Our club coaches set up this spectacular field trip to the NOAA weather station. Both Jack and I are big fans of the NOAA website, as it is instrumental in helping us make our fishing decisions. He was able to be off work at attend the field trip with us. Yeah!

Here are the five boys at the front door. These are the same five boys that have been meeting twice a week for a month now and will go to compete in November and January. Two of them are previous FLL members.

Here we are waiting in the conference room for the lecture to begin. Dennis Decker did a spectacular job of relaying his knowledge to the kids. He is a very patient man. He took probably 45 minutes worth of questions on all sorts of weather situations.

This is the intial view looking into the main work room. Mr. Decker is in the green shirt, Jack in blue. Mr. Decker said something about having been on the Weather Channel and maybe some special on the Discovery channel. I felt extemely priviledged to be learning right from him and be looking at the equipment they use to forecast weather for our region.

Not only do they predict weather temps & rain, but they determine wind & wave forecasts too. In another side of the room, they still have a ham radio for emergencies. Another computer sends our info on those Emergency Weather Radios.

Here is one of the work stations. Some of the screens repeat themselves but overall, each can show different types of methods of reading the atmosphere. This one to the right is looking at the clouds that were forming off the Georgia coast. This system eventually became Tropical Storm Kyle. The computer models can easily formulate a guesstimate about 10-14 days out but they safely predict the next 7 days with accuracy.

Here is the same big screen in the above picture but it is now set on looking at the moisture in the air. The red shows dry air and then there is a variation of color for moisture.

It's been 5 days since we've been to the weather station and so far, Mr. Decker's computer models have been dead-on for our weather. We're expecting another cool front come through this weekend. I can't wait.

Did you know that they still send those weather balloons up in the sky around the world? They cost approximately $100 each and can be refurbished but they are rarely returned. Weathermen around the world share their date with each other and this helps the computer models to do their work.

This machine to the right picks up readings on the wind. Those meters on the top determine consistent winds (left) and gusts (on right) and then, of course, there is a paper reading.

Now, we're outside the facilities. On top of the building are the "things" that pick up the wind speed & direction, etc.

Below that, in the door to the right, that is the battery which keeps the continuous power going to the equipment inside if anything should threaten that. Should power stay off for any length of time, they have another "house" with a couple generators in it. In the foreground of this pic, is the fuel that will run the generators. I believe Mr. Decker said they could run on generators for 3 weeks. He also had various stories about how the weather station went down in New Orleans during Katrina. The meterologists were able to survive in a specially built safe room and then somehow communicate that they were still alive but power was out.

Here are the boys with Mr. Decker. That building to the left is the generator house.

The sun was bright and it was hard to smile, but believe me, they were smiling on the inside. We all had a great time. I think my next career could be as a meterologist. Wow, they get to do some cool stuff. They're the brains behind those weathermen you see on the evening news. They are real-life heroes who save lives because they can send out those warnings.

C'mon everybody and sing with me, "We've got the whole world, in our hands." Ok, so it isn't the whole world, but the Doppler Radar ball.

Did you know that the doppler ball, if it were naked, would look like a rotating satellite dish with some fine tuned instruments alongside it. The foam & plastic covering protects the equipment from 125 mph winds. (Max protection) Doppler sends out radar that bounces off of moisture droplets.

Ok, now we're just having fun. Great balls of fire!!! Looks like Hercules holding Doppler on fire. Something of Biblical proportions......

Anyhow, I digress........ we had a wonderful time and THANK YOU to Mr. Decker.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have done a GREAT job with your report. It is fun and educational to visit the National Weather Service and Dennis Decker must have been an excellent tour guide for your field trip.

Bruce Thomas
Chief Meteorologist
Midland Radio Corporation