Norman’s Weather Community
Norman is the home of a growing weather industry. Entities include the National Weather Center Building (NWC), which houses university and government entities and collaborations, and the Partners Buildings, which accommodate private companies in close proximity to the NWC.
The National Weather Center, the anchor tenant on the University of Oklahoma Research Campus, houses a unique confederation of OU, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and state organizations that work together in partnership to improve understanding of events occurring in Earth’s atmosphere over a wide range of time and space scales.
NOAA officials and OU representatives broke ground for the building in October 2002, and the 244,000 square-foot building officially opened on September 29, 2006. The vision for the NWC is to be one of the largest weather research centers in the world and the premier facility for severe storm research, prediction, forecasting, and warning, allowing federal and university scientists to work together under one roof, sharing equipment and ideas. In addition, students study alongside these experts in the weather field.
These facilities solidify Norman’s importance to the worldwide weather community. Also located on the OU Research Campus are the Partners Buildings, housing private companies and some OU tenants interested in collaborative efforts. While these buildings offer opportunities to a variety of private endeavors, not just those having to do with weather, the first to relocate here have been weather-related companies interested in forming relationships with occupants of the National Weather Center.
What is Job Shadowing:
The Job Shadow Program is a national event which kicks-off annually on February 2nd (Groundhog's Day). The first Job Shadow Day was held in Boston in 1996. Similar programs have developed around the country. Students are matched with workplace mentors in a variety of career fields. The students “shadow” their mentor as they go through a normal work day.
The Job Shadow Program ultimately wants to help young people explore firsthand the skills and education needed to succeed, and to encourage the development of relationships between students and caring adults. Students need these experiences to help them better understand how their training in the classroom is relevant in the workplace.
Job Shadowing in the Norman Weather Community:
The Storm Prediction Center was the first weather agency in Norman to provide Job Shadowing opportunities for students beginning in 2004. Staff found their participation as mentors in the Job Shadow program very rewarding. As all of the federal, state, and university weather groups moved into the National Weather Center and became neighbors of private weather companies housed in the OU Partner buildings, partnerships and collaborations began to blossom.
The Norman Chamber of Commerce brings together the different weather groups through its Weather Committee. The Weather Committee is composed of staff from weather organizations as well as Norman business leaders. The Weather Committee meets monthly to discuss recruitment of new weather businesses to Norman and upcoming events in the weather community. A major goal for the Weather Committee is to "Educate Norman residents and the State's citizenry regarding the weather enterprise and ways in which it contributes to economic growth and improves quality of life".
The Weather Committee first major "engagement" of Norman residents began with hosting the National Weather Festival for families interested in learning about weather and the technologies used to observe weather phenomena. This event has grown to an attendance of 5,000 annually. The committee next turned its focus to engaging Cleveland County high school students with the weather career opportunities right in their own backyard. Using the foundation created by SPC's Job Shadow Program, a Working Team was formed to recruit weather organizations and students in Cleveland County for an expanded Job Shadow Program.
Expanding Throughout the Norman Weather Community:
The Job Shadow Working-Team began recruiting schools and additional weather groups to participate in Job Shadowing for high school students. In 2011, four students representing Norman High, Norman North, and Southmoore high schools, applied to participate in the program. Staff from the NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, Oklahoma Mesonet, NOAA's National Weather Service Office in Norman, NOAA's Weather Partners, and NOAA's Radar Operations Center welcomed students to their work sites.
School officials can schedule to meet with members of the Job Shadow Working-Team to discuss the activities students will see during their Job Shadow visits and tour the National Weather Center.
Job Shadow Partner Agencies/Companies:
The organizations listed below currently participate as Job Shadow Host sites.
NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC)
The Storm Prediction Center is part of the National Weather Service’s (NWS) National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The SPC exists to protect life and property of the American people through the issuance of timely, accurate watch and forecast products dealing with tornadoes and other hazardous mesoscale weather phenomena.
The SPC is the nation’s only all-hazards weather forecast center. It deals with hazardous weather 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The SPC maintains a continuous weather watch over the entire contiguous United States, and issues most of its products on an as-needed, event-driven basis. The SPC provides its partners and customers a one-stop source of mesoscale meteorological information.
NOAA’s National Weather Service Weather Forecast Offices (WFO)
WFOs provide 7-day forecasts, watches, warnings, and advisories in addition to critical information related to ongoing or imminent hazardous weather,
NOAA’s Radar Operations Center (ROC)
In 1988, the NEXRAD Agencies established the WSR-88D (Weather Surveillance Radar - 1988 Doppler) Radar Operations Center (ROC) in Norman, Oklahoma. The ROC employees come from the National Weather Service, Air Force, Navy, FAA, and support contractors. The ROC provides centralized meteorological, software, maintenance, and engineering support for all WSR-88D systems. WSR-88D systems will be modified and enhanced during their operational life to meet changing requirements, technology advances, and improved understanding of the application of these systems to real-time weather operations. The ROC also operates WSR-88D test systems for the development of hardware and software upgrades to enhance maintenance and operation and to provide new functionality.
NEXRAD is used to warn the people of the United States about dangerous weather and its location. Meteorologists can now warn the public to take shelter with more notice than with any previous radar. There are 159 operational NEXRAD radar systems deployed throughout the United States and at selected overseas locations. The maximum range of the NEXRAD radar is 250 nautical miles. The NEXRAD network provides significant improvements in severe weather and flash flood warnings, air traffic safety, flow control for air traffic, resource protection at military bases, and management of water, agriculture, forest, and snow removal.
The Oklahoma Climatological Survey (OCS)
OCS is a state agency and a research unit attached to the University of Oklahoma College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences. OCS has a legislative mandate to acquire, process, and disseminate climate and weather data and information for use by the state’s citizens.
The Oklahoma Mesonet
The Oklahoma Mesonet consists of 120 automated observing stations that continuously monitor numerous important weather and soil variables. It is administered jointly by the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University and operated by the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.
For Cleveland County high school students: February 2nd (Groundhog's Day); annually
If Feb 2nd occurs on a weekend, shadow events will be held the following week.
For Oklahoma college students: TBD
Organizations wishing to serve as a job site host contact:
120 David L. Boren Blvd., Suite 2400
Norman, OK 73072
Schools or individual students wanting to participate contact:
The University of Oklahoma
120 David L. Boren Blvd., Suite 2900
Norman, OK 73072