Ashburn, VA (February 9, 2017) – Senior Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) staff got a look behind the scenes at some high-tech weather forecasting on February 2nd at the National Weather Service Baltimore-Washington Weather Forecast Office in Sterling.
Warning Coordination Meteorologist Chris Strong tutored LCPS Assistant Superintendent for Support Services Kevin Lewis, Director of Facilities Services Don Treanor, Director of Transportation Michael Brown and their staffs on the intricacies of forecasting winter weather. It’s this LCPS team that hits the road early (as in 2 a.m.) on the mornings when severe weather is forecast to check road conditions.
The Sterling Office monitors weather from the Chesapeake Bay to the Appalachians, an area about 10 million people call home. Manned by a staff of 25, the office is open 24-7, 365. Strong said LCPS staff is always welcome to call the meteorologists on duty if they have a weather question.
The Weather Service is the agency that determines the storm watches and warnings – the levels of threat – associated with the weather and relayed by news media. Even though it’s been a relatively mild winter, Strong reminded the LCPS employees “there’s always going to be a next time for weather.” He added that, while you can’t stop weather, you can prepare your reaction to it.
Part of the National Weather Service’s preparation now includes monitoring road temperatures. This is done through a cooperative effort with state departments of transportation. Strong said the difference between an inch of snow on a 20-degree road and a 35-degree road can be dramatic. “An inch of snow on a 20-degree road is disaster; 35 not so much.”
Dramatic also describes the differences in weather parts of Loudoun can experience. Strong said the county is divided into two weather zones with Route 15 as the border. Sometimes – but not always – weather can be more severe to the west of Route 15.
Strong gave the LCPS staffers customizable warnings and detailed web resources incorporating everything from short- to long-term forecasts.