“Innovation, communication, and inspiration” are three words which sum up the past year for members of the North Florida AMS. In past years, for a lot student and local meteorologists, it was difficult for them to become members due to a lack of incentives. Going into the year, the chapter officers planned events so that becoming a member would make membership dues well spent. With the officers introducing intriguing speakers, a Member of the Year award, new contests, unique social events, and fun emergency preparedness/outreach opportunities: membership skyrocketed to 115 members!
At meetings, members were privileged to hear from a plethora of renowned meteorologists. Ranging from academia to the government/military to the emergency management and television coverage aspects of meteorology, speakers entertained, motivated, and educated those in attendance. Florida State University Meteorology Professor Dr. Robert Hart opened the year with a record attendance (95) on hand for his presentation on “Hurricanes and Global Warming”. Assistant State Climatologist, Melissa Griffin, informed members on the new CoCoRaHS observing system recently instituted in Florida. Irv Watson (SOO, NWS Tallahassee) and Rusty Pfost (MIC, NWS Miami) discussed different aspects of the National Weather Service at meetings. Members were invited to a special meeting this year at the Florida Emergency Operations Center where they were hosted by State Meteorologist, Ben Nelson. Members were entertained about meteorological effects on river systems by a Biology professor, Dr. Robert Livingston. The chapter held an unprecedented banquet this year in Doak Campbell Stadium, where 100 were in attendance for Dr. Steve Lyon. Dr. Lyons spoke to the chapter about his role as Tropical Expert at the Weather Channel and operations there during U.S. landfalling hurricanes. Members were also honored to have Richard Henning, a hurricane hunter, speak to the chapter at the final meeting.
Chapter members voted and approved the Member of the Year Award this year to go to a member who demonstrated outstanding participation in chapter activities. A point system was initiated in order to track how often members were attending meetings and social events, contributing to committees, and volunteering at fundraising events and outreach events in the community. The member who had the most points was recognized as North Florida AMS Member of the Year and awarded a free ticket to the banquet. This brought a new incentive for members, along with special points opportunities for those involved with the chapter.
This year’s chapter social events have served as grounds for members to get know one another better and discuss and collaborate about their passions for meteorology. Social events have included: the chapter picnic, Cici’s Pizza fundraiser/social, a golf tournament, basketball/football tailgates, a mini-golf tournament, a river tubing event, and bowling. These events have provided many opportunities for members to get to know each other better and get discounted rates on activities around the community.
This year, new contests were introduced to the members. Over the summer, members participated in the first ever weather picture contest. Over 60 pictures were submitted and the competition was stiff, with pictures of weather phenomena from storm chases, flooding events, trips throughout the world, and local weather (fire plumes, lightning, and sea breeze thunderstorms). The twelve winners were rewarded with a spot in the chapter calendar. A weather trivia contest was also held on extremes at the November meeting. The four highest finishers were rewarded a Member of the Year point and chosen to participate in a Weather Jeopardy event. Weather Jeopardy was held at the State Emergency Operations Center on a big screen with surround sound, having the feeling of a game show. Those involved in this contest included two Florida State University students, a retired NOAA meteorologist, and a meteorology graduate who came to the meeting from two hours away. The chapter has prided itself over the past year for being a relaxed commonplace for members of diverse backgrounds to meet and share their love for weather.
Throughout the year, scholarship and job opportunities were announced frequently. Through the chapter web site, http://www.northflams.org, members were updated on ways to be awarded and recognized for their accomplishments. Members have been recognized in the past year for AMS graduate fellowships and undergraduate scholarships, NOAA Hollings Scholarships, and for outstanding volunteer service with the American Red Cross and National Weather Service.
The North Florida American Meteorological Society has provided several opportunities for chapter members to meet professionals in their field, hear about potential job opportunities, attend the National AMS Conference, and celebrate meteorology at social events. With record attendance throughout the year, members have embraced these opportunities and enjoyed participation in the events. Developing friendships and contacts with others in our field has been cherished by members for the past year.
“The StormReady designation simply affirms our proactivity in working to protect all those people who have made FSU their educational home.” The pinnacle of the chapter year was reached in late May of 2007, as Florida State University President, T.K. Wetherell held a press conference recognizing the chapter for its outstanding efforts in making FSU StormReady. For the past year, the North Florida chapter has taken its traditional approach of doing outreach to local schools and expanded it exponentially by becoming involved in emergency preparedness throughout the community.
The 2007-2008 year for the North Florida AMS started out with a bang, as chapter members contributed to Project FSU StormReady, helping program and install radios throughout the campus of Florida State University. Members were a crucial part in helping Florida State University become the first National Weather Service certified StormReady university in Florida and sixteenth in the nation. Eighty radios, along with three sirens, were strategically placed throughout campus in locations where large numbers of students, faculty, and staff congregate. Along with installing weather radios, chapter members took part in two SkyWarn spotter training sessions and helped develop evacuation plans in dormitories. These efforts by chapter members alone helped make Florida State University safer should a hazardous weather event threaten campus.
Along with the president’s StormReady recognition, the chapter’s outreach efforts culminated during at special weeklong events held on campus. To begin the school year, the chapter educated students about the potential weather risks in the North Florida area at a booth during FSU Emergency Preparedness Week. To wrap up the week, the AMS held a teleconference with Ben Nelson, State Meteorologist of Florida, and other emergency officials on local television to discuss how we can prepare for the next hazardous weather event. At Hazardous Weather Awareness Week in February, the chapter participated in judging weather posters of elementary students and a booth was held on campus where students were instructed on weather radios and the StormReady program.
In the fall, the chapter was involved with the American Red Cross in relief training events and their Fire/Weather House. The Fire/Weather House was a great opportunity for members to share their weather knowledge with children in the community. This outreach took place for several days at the North Florida Fair and in the city of Tallahassee, at its Downtown GetDown on Friday evenings. Members were also involved this past fall at the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DOACS) annual Safety Fair. There, members held an outreach booth, which informed those in attendance of the dangers involved with tornadic thunderstorms.
The education of children in the community continues to be one of the primary goals of the chapter. It has maintained its close relationship with local schools throughout the year, judging at the 2008 Regional Science and Engineering Fair. Members have also given visitors tours of the Florida State University Department of Meteorology, the National Weather Service, and the FSU weather studio. In April, the chapter coordinated with the NWS in Tallahassee for the arrival of the NOAA P3 in Apalachicola. Members traveled to Apalachicola to help educate 4th and 5th graders on careers in meteorology. This experience allowed the chapter to climb aboard and learn about the NOAA P3 from hurricane hunters, and play a part in the event as well, sharing weather knowledge with students.
Most recently, a chapter member has spearheaded a project putting together packages for the Tallahassee homeless shelter. The chapter has donated funds for the purchase of sixty ponchos and received sponsorship from Wal-Mart for part of the homeless weather packs which include: umbrellas, socks, flashlights, toothbrushes, shampoo, soap, and sun block.
With record membership, the chapter has been blessed with even more enthusiastic members who have allowed us to increase outreach and education events in the community. The outstanding support over the past year has set a precedent for the chapter in which volunteer services and weather education to the community will become an integral part each year. In the future, plans to do weather radio checks on campus, spotter training, and annual information booths are in place. With these plans set, the sky’s the limit for future outreach throughout the North Florida community.