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John Ahrens' Annual Visit to CATA

Meteorologist John Ahrens visits CATA and poses with students.

During John Ahrens' annual presentation to Earth/ Environmental students on October 10th, he talked about his experiences as a meteorologist and weather reporter. He also spoke about tornadoes, hurricanes and his personal experience with them as a storm chaser.

Ms. Kopchick said, “John has a unique way of making everything extremely funny and entertaining. I felt the students were engaged throughout his presentation and learned many things from tornado safety to working with a green screen on TV.”

John talked about tornadoes and described the storms as “big swirling masses of air.” He talked about how a cold front could form a tornado, and how the spinning of air is caused by the Coriolis Effect. He talked about how air, or more specifically cold air, runs into elevated land such as a mountain. Then the cold air moves back and reacts to the immediate stop by starting to spin. This spinning continues and if conditions are right, can form a tornado.

The Fujita Scale measures the strength of a tornado. John once chased an F-2 tornado which can have wind speeds from 112 mph to 157 mph. He described his own tornado chasing experiences. “One time I was chasing a tornado and it was pitch black outside. Don’t ever do that! Because you can’t see it! I was searching for it and all of a sudden it was chasing me! Storm chasing can be very exhilarating, but be smarter than me!” John definitely doesn't recommend chasing storms in the dark.

John explained about his career as a weather reporter or meteorologist. “A meteorologist needs to be ready to go at a moments notice.” He talked about what a weather reporter feels like when he is on camera. A meteorologist needs to stay focused and explain the weather forecast so everyone can understand. He has to wear an earpiece to hear his producer speak to him during his forecasts.

He chose a few volunteers from the audience to demonstrate how hard it can be to deliver information while a producer is constantly talking in your ear. He asked the volunteers, Austin Driggers, Kelsey Millett and Nick Roets, to speak on a topic they were comfortable. While they spoke, he would comment on their looks, actions, and their way of talking in an attempt to throw them off their game. He said many funny things that made the audience laugh. The volunteers all agreed it was very difficult to speak over someone especially when they were being very funny.

John also spoke on the increasing use of technology in the field of meteorology. With the use of smart phones and social media, current weather conditions can be found at the touch of your fingertips. Why wait to view a local forecast at 5pm? John invited all the students to follow him on Twitter: @JohnAhrens9. John Ahrens is an AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM) and works at WSOC-TV Channel 9. Check him out on the local news, Twitter or Facebook!

Written by: Will Stewart, CATA student and Ms. Kopchick, Earth Science teacher
Posted: Oct 15, 2012 by Deb Christensen

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