Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Wild Day on Thursday

Thursday May 22, 2008 was a chaotic day for most of us here at the station. Thursday is one out of the two days a week I come down to the station for my internship. Last Thursday was not one of the usual days. I was at home getting ready to leave from Greeley when a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Greeley. Soon after the severe thunderstorm warning the warning turned into a tornado warning. Just as fast as the tornado warning was issued the NWS upgraded the warning to a high threat warning! I knew it was going to be one hell of a trip down to Denver that morning, and was it ever!

I live on the west side of Greeley about 5 miles from highway 34. I am driving and noticing the dark low lying clouds to the west. As I got even closer I notice the clouds were still rotating! I am about 1 mile from highway 34 when I notice all of the power lines down and the dairy farm to the west of my position completely destroyed. I knew this had to be tornado damage and I had to have just missed it. Police closed down the road and informed me that highway 85 was closed and they had just closed 34. How was I going to get to I-25?

I decided to try and head north and catch a westbound highway that would eventually throw me onto I-25. Well after about 7 minutes of driving I ended up in the middle of Windsor. I could not believe it! I had accidentally stumbled upon more tornado damage and I had to have arrived minutes after the tornado had hit. People were still stumbling about. I asked a couple standing at the bottom of their driveway if they needed help. They confirmed for me that it was a tornado, and I made a call to 7News to notify them. Luckily I had my camera in my car, I began to take pictures.

The sight was unbelievable! So much destruction. I was pretty much stuck in Windsor due to all the traffic trying to get in and out, not to mention all of the help trying to get to people injured or still trapped. I was calling a manager at work who I knew lived in Windsor to see if she needed help. Her house was hit and was marked as unlivable. After many attempts to get a hold of her, and with no luck, I managed to get back home and upload my pictures to send to Mike in the weather center. He showed them on the news in the 6 o'clock and the 10 o'clock.

It was a day that I will never forget and an experience that I have never had before. For all the people who were impacted by the deadly tornadoes that day, you are all in my thoughts and prayers!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Summer is Almost Here!

As a high pressure system builds in the western US this weekend, it will begin to feel more and more like summer. And I couldn't be happier! Wednesday marked the end of a very long, difficult semester for me at Metro State. The past few weeks have been the busiest of my entire life. An endless stream of papers, projects, and tests kept me working constantly up until the very last minute. On top of all of that, I have been working as much as possible on my audition tape the past few weeks. I absolutely love working up on the chroma-key (green screen) so it doesn't usually feel like work. Lisa has helped me so much through this process and I can't thank her enough. I'm hoping that the work we've been doing will help set me apart from the rest and get me a job by the end of the summer! It's going to be a long and arduous process, but it's something that I want more than I've wanted anything in my life. I'm really looking forward to finishing up my tape and getting out into the real world!

But first, I have to finish up my degree this summer. I'll be taking two upper level math classes and will continue taking forecasting classes in the coming months. Senioritis is definitely kicking in, especially after the past few weeks. The beginning of August cannot come soon enough! I'll keep interning at KMGH-TV this summer as well. I want to learn as much as I can and gain as much experience as possible before I graduate.

Thankfully, I get a week and half break before summer classes start. No rest for the weary, however. I'm flying home to Chicago for a few days, then off to Maryland for my best friend's graduation and commissioning from the Naval Academy. I'm so proud of her and can't wait to spend some time with her! Then it's back to Chicago for a few days before returning to Denver for school. It's going to be busy, but a lot of fun!

Congratulations to Chris Yates and all of the graduates out there! Enjoy the nice weather!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Spring Weather

This spring semester of my internship at KMGH Channel 7 has given me invaluable experience forecasting some of the most unpredictable weather in the world. Speaking mainly of the Front Range cities in Colorado, of course, I've seen record snowfall amounts in the high country, Chinook winds that rattle the windows in Boulder, a 'light dusting' that brought four inches of heavy wet unexpected snow to the metro area, and I've seen boring days of zonal flow that lead to an uneventful afternoon at the station.

Forecasting the weather for 100 cities across Colorado on a biweekly basis has been a challenging, ongoing and highly educational process. Colorado cities are unique because as a group, they have over 5000 feet of altitude difference from the plains to the high country, this phenomenon is something that the forecast models tend to 'smooth over,' leaving the human forecaster with the task of combining interpretation of the models with knowledge of the topography of a given area to come up with a forecast that is reasonably accurate. As for my own skill, I have yet to promise snow on a perfectly sunny day, and I have yet to promise warmth on a day that brings shivers. That being said, I've had my share of being wrong.

One afternoon in February I was unable to correctly forecast the abrupt snow that blanketed the unprepared Denver Metro area simply because I failed to look out the window. Had I looked to the western sky, I would have recognized the cloud banding indicative of a heavier snow than any of the models were predicting. From that day forward, I take a walk outside the windowless studio and look to the sky before entering my forecast for the day.

The internship at KMGH has shown me what it is like to work in the field of broadcast meteorology. Weather is news, especially in Colorado where unsettled weather is a daily occurrence. The job of the broadcast meteorologist is to give the most accurate and understandable weather depiction available on an hourly basis, while issuing appropriate weather ticker warnings in congruence with the National Weather Service.

Another resource for weather news is thedenverchannel.com, which is updated by interns and meteorologists multiple times in a day with up-to-the-minute weather information as it becomes available to us here at the station. The Internet is important because people who are unable to catch the nightly newscast still need accurate weather information from a source they trust. in this case, KMGH is (and always should be) that source. On thedenverchannel.com, weather maps, planning forecasts, and point forecasts are available for locations all over Colorado.

My experience at KMGH has been incredibly high-impact. The forecast that I prepare is the one that goes up on-screen for the entire audience of KMGH to see. I produce, render, and compile the seven-day forecast for Denver with a guiding hand from Mike Nelson and Tony Laubach, I combine the forecast with weather graphics that go onto the green-screen for Mike Nelson's afternoon broadcast. I maintain up-to-date- weather information on the Internet at thedenverchannel.com. This experience will add to my resume when I apply for a career in broadcast meteorology.

Overall, I'm sad that this semester, and my internship are comming to an end. I hope to continue my pursuit of a career in broadcast meteorology as my college experience progresses.