Newsletter Navigation – Fall/Winter 2015

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Office News & Events:


Weather & Forecasting:

NWS Des Moines Hosts Hollings Scholar

By Eric McCormick, Hollings Scholar and Kenny Podrazik, Journey Forecaster
Eric McCormick presents his poster in Silver Spring, MD

Eric McCormick presents his poster in Silver Spring, MD

This summer, the NWS Des Moines was pleased to host Eric McCormick, a student conducting a summer research project as part of NOAA’s Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program. Eric is now a senior School of Meteorology student at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Eric’s interest centers around NOAA’s Weather-Ready Nation initiatives and this was the focus of his summer work at the office. His project, titled “Going Social: The Integration of Social Media into Severe Weather Operations at WFO Des Moines,” incorporated his interests as he completed a social media use analysis for the office. His work specifically focused on investigating how Facebook and Twitter have become important tools for the office during severe weather operations, and how the social media presence from the office could be further improved. His work analyzed severe weather events across Central Iowa from 2013 to 2015 specifically from a social media perspective in search of best practices and recommendations for improvement in the future. Incorporated into his findings was survey data he collected about social media and technology use to access weather information. He created a conceptual social media model and wrote an overarching analysis for the office that detailed his findings, which he presented to the office staff at the conclusion of his summer internship.

Additionally, Eric presented his findings at the NOAA Science and Education Symposium in Silver Spring, MD during the final week of July 2015. At the Science Symposium, all Hollings Scholars (over 100 students from around the country) gathered to present their summer work to the other students and the NOAA headquarters community. The Scholars presented their summer research projects either via oral or poster presentation. Eric presented a poster and said his poster was a hit and stood out because of its project type, with no other students researching local NWS social media work.

When not at the office this summer, Eric enjoyed getting outside to explore all that Iowa had to offer. Eric returned to Norman in August and will earn his Bachelor’s degree in Meteorology in May 2016. He is already researching graduate school opportunities to additionally earn his Master’s degree. His future career plans involve emergency management with a focus on weather safety and preparedness.

The Des Moines office enjoyed having Eric join our team for the summer and will continue to benefit from his research. We wish Eric the best with his future plans!

NWS Des Moines Now on Periscope

By Kenny Podrazik, Journey Forecaster and Brad Small, Senior Forecaster

Periscope is a fairly new feature available through Twitter that was released earlier this year.  It allows you to experience events that you wouldn’t normally be able to experience. In the weather community, this has tremendous potential. You’ll be able to experience a live broadcast of a tornado in western Kansas or large hail in South Dakota or white-out blizzard conditions in northern Iowa. All you need is a Twitter account and you can discover the advantages of using live streaming video via Periscope.

There are two ways to utilize Periscope, as a broadcaster or as a viewer.  If you are broadcasting video, this allows your followers to see what you are seeing in real time as they are immediately linked to your live feed. As a viewer, this provides you with the opportunity to see through someone else’s eyes.

For us at the National Weather Service, we see the benefit of both. The benefit of being a broadcaster allows our followers to see what we’re seeing on radar or maybe take a quick look at a storm survey or even a brief tour of the office.  As a viewer, this has an even more impactful benefit to the National Weather Service.  It allows us to view live broadcasts from our storm spotters and have a better sense of what they are reporting to us. It doesn’t just end at spotters though.  We’ll be able to follow storm chasers’ live feed and see the evolution of a supercell and potentially the formation of a tornado.  This will aid tremendously in warning decision making because there is nothing more beneficial than real time reports on the ground.

We highly recommend that if you have a Twitter account to utilize Periscope if you are out storm spotting, chasing or encounter any interesting weather.  Please utilize the #iawx or #nwsdmx hashtags when you title your Periscope stream  to make it easier for us to track your video.  You can follow us on Twitter and Periscope at @NWSDesMoines.