Norman's National Weather Center has a festival on its radar 

National Weather Festival
9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday
National Weather Center
120 David L. Boren, Norman

Channel your inner weatherman on Saturday at the National Weather Center's sixth annual National Weather Festival.

"The festival is an opportunity for visitors to see what we do and learn about weather processes and organizations," said Keli Pirtle Tarp, public affairs specialist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's five Norman weather partners. "With activities for kids and adults, it's the perfect event."

Ever wonder if those weather watchers who charge into the teeth of the storm are brave, crazy or a little bit of both? You can ask the chasers who have entered their vehicles into the festival's storm-chaser car show, affording visitors an up-close look at chase vehicles and their gadgets and gizmos, some of which get beat all to hail by Mother Nature's fury.

Entries are divided into four categories: storm spotters, students and researchers, professionals and TV chasers. To raise money for the American Red Cross, a people's choice award will be given to the vehicle garning the most $1 votes.

Weather personalities from metro television stations will be on hand to visit with fans and assist with weather balloon launches at the top of each hour from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Scientific instruments will ride the experimental balloons high into the Oklahoma sky, measure atmospheric conditions, and transmit the data to the National Weather Center for evaluation.

Ham radio operators will demonstrate how their hobby serves as a vital link between storm spotters in the field and experts at the National Weather Service. A special display includes the equipment used in Vortex2, the largest tornado field experiment ever, which tracked twisters across nine states in the springs of 2009 and 2010.

The Dominator, the tank-like armored chase vehicle from Discovery Channel's "Stormchasers" series, will make an appearance.

Visitors can view real-time satellite data and radar from across the country displayed on the "Science on a Sphere" globe, and take a tour of the National Weather Center facility and the National Weather Service forecast operation area. For a bit of Hollywood, look for the movie props, including the fictional research machine Dorothy, from the tornado flick "Twister."

Initially conceived as an open house, the event has expanded to include the community of weather-related organizations and businesses that have grown up around the facility.

Price writes online at

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Charlie Price

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