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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Websites for the Weather Conscious

With the tornado season still in play and the hurricane season at its peak, here are a few websites for those interested in monitoring the current weather, reading about past events or simply learning more about the science of meteorology.

First off, there is the Blacksburg office of the Nat’l Weather Service at

This is the homepage of the local office and has many links off to other areas.

If you want to check out the local RADAR, you can go to

RADAR has become one of the most important tools to meteorologists, both for research and for prediction. Modern RADAR relies on the theory of frequency shifts between objects emitting energy waves. This is called the Doppler Effect and this theory was discovered by Austrian physicist Christian Doppler in 1842. You may have experienced this effect when passed by a fire truck or ambulalance with its siren on. As the vehicle passed, you may have noticed the sudden drop in pitch of the siren. This is the Doppler Effect. Police traffic RADAR also uses this same Doppler Theory by the way. To learn more about how this effect is used in Weather Radar, go to

The homepage of the National Weather Service is located at

If you are more of a hobbyist and want to really get involved in the local weather scene, you may want to join Skywarn. Skywarn was formed in 1971 and is a “neighborhood watch” of sorts for severe weather events. Skywarn spotters attend free classes hosted by the Nat’l Weather Service where they learn about a variety of cloud formations, how to estimate wind speeds, what to look for in a possible tornado type storm and how to report all this to the Weather Service.
Skywarn spotters serve as amateur field agents for the Weather Service personnel, giving feedback and input that RADAR alone does not give. Reprting things like hail, snow depth, wind speed and other events that require someone to actually eyeball, provides invaluable information to Weather Sevice personnel. If you are interested in becoming a spotter, go to

Finally, please be safe. Central Virginia is not the place to stormchase unless you are highly trained. The terrain in our area makes sight distances fairly short. It's not like out in Kansas and Oklahoma, where you can see flat land for 50 miles. Leave it to the professionals and if you see something like a tornado call your local Police or Sheriff's Office.


At 10:59 AM, Blogger B O B said...

Great post Jeff, with weather on everyone's mind, you have provided some very good directions. I will be looking at your links. Thanks again.

At 1:20 PM, Blogger Ken Martin said...

Somewhat weather related, here is a link for being prepared.

I am a strong believer in sheltering in place, except for those who live in low-lying flood prone areas and those who can not take care of themselves.

At 6:54 AM, Blogger B O B said...

Thanks Ken for the comment. I thought the link you provided was quite interesting. I think in a future post we will be talking more about the link you provided.

As always, you prod me to thought Ken.


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