Ph.D. Student - Earth System Science (UC Irvine), B.Sc. - Atmospheric Sciences (Cornell University)
By: Zachary Labe , 3:04 PM GMT on August 15, 2008
My Accuweather Building Tour from Wednesday, August 13, 2008...
Well I was thinking... Since I did a special Mt. Washington Blog I thought I would do a blog on my tour of the Accuweather Building. By the time this blog is posted for several days, it will be time for a special new blog potentially on a hurricane threat maybe impacting the east coast.
So on the drive up Rt. 322 I was anxiously getting excited for an hour-long term sponsored by the Accuweather Corporation. The drive up is a beautiful drive along scenic mountains and farming valleys. State College is located in Centre County, Pennsylvania, which is the exact central point of the state. State College is known around the United States for famous things such as Penn State football and in the meteorological community for the regional NWS stationed there, the Accuweather Building, and the wonderful meteorological program by Penn State University including WeatherWorld. When you think about it, it is odd that there are some many wonderful weather corporations located in the rural ridge and valley region of central Pennsylvania. There are no big cities nearby, just small towns with plenty of mountains and farms. Just recently I had been up in the region to see Penns Cave, which I wrote about in another blog. There are many things to see and do up in the region, especially in winter when the ski resorts open up. So anyway upon arrival, the building was pretty east to find. It was right off of Science Park Road located behind a few trees and another office building. When first looking at the main building it is quite a sight. The entire building is wind/glass paned with large letters at the top spelling of course, AccuWeather. Large satellite dishes were located in the front yard along with their Davis Vantage Pro2 located in the grassy pasture nearby.
My tour was scheduled for 11am, and off course as I always do I arrive early. So I snapped a few pictures of the outside building and then proceeded inside the building. The lobby is very interesting to say the least. At first it sort of has a retro feel to it with unusual architecture. But then I later found out the lobby is modeled after different weather features such as rain on the doors shown by a metal door with metal rain drops. And the unusual roof was actually sculpted to look like clouds (which it did look like clouds upon second glance). So I met up with Meteorologist Jesse Ferrell who is the Accuweather community director and also the tour guide. Mr. Ferrell has a great, laid back personality who really knows his company's history. The building is three floors and up we went first to the third floor. Up there were several head offices for the pro. meteorologists including Dr. Joel N. Myers who is the founder of Accuweather (I must say he has quite an office). Then as we walked through the rest of the cubic offices we went down to the main floor (2nd floor).
The second floor is amazing. This is where the main area looks like a NASA control center in Houston, Texas. Computer screens everywhere with over 100 meteorologists scurrying about the floor looking at computer models, satellites, radars, designing graphics, and updating Accuweather.com. I found some things quite funny which included that the meteorologists were looking off the exact GFS we blog users look off of on the NCEP website. Off course I new meteorologists look off models that we use, but it is just funny to see it in person. So I snapped a few pictures and we proceeded to see the TV studio and the broadcast booths. I met with a few meteorologists and then we moved on. Lastly we went down to the third floor.
The third floor is where the server room is along with the sales/advertising headquarters is. The server room is amazing with all of these computer consoles and wires everywhere. Busy technicians were running about making sure all was running smoothly. There was also a computer screen with statistics of how many visited the site the day before, and in the case it was over six million viewers. So shortly my tour came to an end after I learned many things about the Accuweather Corporation and other meteorological information. I definitely recommend this tour as it really opens you eyes to see the real meteorologists in action.
Weather Summary for the Upcoming Days...
Well quite a busy weather pattern setting up with threats ranging from the tropics to severe weather. This is just a quick summary of what to possibily expect for this coming week. A shortwave is moving across the region today in advance of another weak trough. Showers and thunderstorms will develop as marginal instability develops from the cold pocket aloft combined with diurnal heating with temperatures reaching highs of the upper 70s to mid 80s. Kinematics remain weak and with little jet dynamics. PWATs also and normal to a few deviations below normal. But with little to no wind aloft showers and thunderstorms will move very slowly posing the threat of flash flooding. Shear levels remain below 30knots with winds only a slight threat. Freezing levels remain low so today's main threat will be hail. An isolated weak tornado also cannot be ruled out today, but that threat is very doubtful. As the shortwave moves across the region tonight skies will clear along with weakening showers and thunderstorms. Fog and low stratus will form in areas that receive rainfall. Lows will be in the 50s generally across the region. For Saturday a few showers and thunderstorms cannot be ruled out across the east, but generally it should be a nice day with highs well below normal in the 70s to low 80s. Sunday through Monday look to be fair weather days with highs near seasonal values, nothing too extreme. Nights should remain cool under max radational cooling. Then late in the week showers and thunderstorms roll back into the region. But a tropical threat could also surface along the east coast as 92L tries to further develop. At this point land interaction may hinder some development, but still as this feature moves over warm water it could develop and threaten the east coast. Many people are hyping this storm, but at this point I am taking a more cautious stance and believing that this feature may not even develop. Recon flights are entering the circulation today, so we may find out more information later today. In any case this will need to be monitored and could pose a threat to the east coast next week. Stay tuned for more updates. Anyways have a wonderful Friday!!!
Update as of 4:45pm...
Tropical Storm Fay has now formed currently moving west over the Dominican Republic at 14mph with sustained winds of 40mph. The National Hurricane Center believes this will move over Cuba up through the southern Florida straight up through the state. If this track does not change I would only expect a very weak storm as it would be mainly over land. But as we have seen with this Invest things can change quickly. Have a great evening!!!
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