Loudoun County, Va. (February 25, 2015) – You know how sometimes the thing you’re looking for is in your own back yard?
The Loudoun County School Board’s Health, Safety and Transportation Committee has charged the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) administration with finding all available resources to help make inclement weather calls.
In that spirit, new Chief of Staff Dr. Michael Richards and Public Information Officer Wayde B. Byard visited the Baltimore/Washington Weather Forecast Office of the National Weather Service in Sterling. (This office provides weather forecasts, updates and warnings for approximately 10 million people in a service area bounded by Cumberland, Md., in the north and Charlottesville in the south.)
LCPS has used the Weather Services’ information for years (it provides the backbone information for all the media weather reports and online weather services). However, in the wake of the January 6th snow incident, Meteorologist-in-Chief James E. Lee invited LCPS staff to the Baltimore/Washington Office to get a look at all the weather projections available and open new lines of communication.
Warning Coordination Meteorologist Christopher A. Strong and Science and Operations Officer Steven M. Zubrick gave Richards (an avowed weather fanatic) and Byard a 90-minute look at the inner workings of the Weather Service.
Here’s a fun fact: the weather models you see on www.weather.gov/washington are actually a composite of 57 different weather models. Even with all that forecasting firepower, Strong said weather can “turn on a dime” (like it did January 6th). Strong also allowed as how predictability for small weather events was not as high as for major storms and demonstrated how smaller amounts of snow – with freezing road conditions – can be more treacherous than heavy snowfalls.
Terms also were defined: a “weather watch” means there’s a 50/50 chance that bad weather will strike. A “weather warning” means the probability factor has increased to 80 percent.
A tour of the facility was undertaken and information exchanged in hopes of improving the strategy for how LCPS serves its community during inclement weather.