WEST PAWLET >> Earlier this winter Mettawee Community School Principal Brooke DeBonis contacted Local 22 and Local 44 Chief Meteorologist Sean Parker, in Colchester, and asked him to come visit the school to teach the students about weather. DeBonis' request was fulfilled the last week of February.
"We were so fortunate to have the Local 22 & Local 44 In School Weather Program come to visit Mettawee on Tuesday, Feb. 23," DeBonis said. "Chief Meteorologist Sean Parker discussed different types of weather, described a weather balloon launch, talked about collecting data, and he described the future forecast for the rest of the week. He showed engaging videos (including a weather balloon launch), read a book about the water cycle to the younger students, and he explained what it was like behind the scenes in the television station."
He showed a video prepared fellow station meteorologist Amanda Lindquist, who gave a tour of the television studio.
During Parker's visit, students learned that meteorologists launch weather balloons. Fourth graders Tucker Haynes and Breanne Weeden both said they were very interested in the weather balloons, and how much information the tethered digital box gathers during its flight.
Parker explained that the weather balloon results, called an atmospheric sounding, provide the measure of dew point, temperature, wind speed and direction and much more. Students learned that the digital recording box has a GPS in it. Once the balloon reaches a particular altitude, and pressure, it pops sending the box back to Earth. The GPS helps scientists retrieve the instrument, but not always. The information gets plugged into computer models and weather forecasts are based upon these models.
Parker also talked about thunder and lightning, a topic that most students felt strongly about. After a discussion of the definition of thunder, Park showed a video recorded in Vermont thought to be a forming tornado.
Sixth grader Dylan Ricard said, "I liked being able to see the video that got people so excited, thinking it was a tornado. It turned out that the clouds were not funnel clouds. Mr. Parker told us they were really just scud clouds which are ragged and low-hanging."
Lindquist's video of the studio tour was popular with many students. Sixth grader Taylor Amaral said she liked learning about teleprompters, worded screens from which both newscasters and meteorologists read from. Fourth grader Emily McFadden said she liked learning about the empty green screen that meteorologists stand in front of during the weather forecast portion of the newscast, while looking at a computer screen for the actual maps being broadcast.
All students received a weather ruler for measuring snow depth in the hopes that some students would be interested in sending in their measurements to the TV station. Parker told them, "Your information helps us know what is actually going on around the state when it comes to the number of inches of fallen snow following each storm."
Mettawee families and school community were delighted with Parker's Tuesday night on air "shoutout" about his visit during his evening broadcast!