Lessons on weather
January 10, 2008
Grandview Elementary School students were taken by storm Thursday morning.
From jet streams to hail the size of a volleyball, the students got a firsthand look on different weather patterns and how the most dangerous storms develop.
And who better to present than the man best known for his tornado dance, Channel 7 meteorologist Mike Nelson.
Nelson, who speaks at about 100 schools around Colorado every year, traveled to Windsor from his office in Denver to present on Radiosondes, weather balloons, Hurricane Hunters and exactly how tornadoes form.
“You really get the energy from kids,” Nelson said. “I don’t expect them all to become television meteorologists, but I hope I can at least foster some wonder and sense of learning more about the environment. There is so many issues with ozone, climate change and energy issues. All of us need to be more science savvy because the technology is going to be the only ways we get out of the problems we face.”
Nelson started his presentation with a story about his first run in with a dangerous thunderstorm when he was 7 years old. From that moment on, Nelson said he knew he wanted to do something with weather.
“I wanted to see the big storm,” said Nelson, who has been a meteorologist for 30 years. “As the cloud got closer to me, I tried to get closer to it.”
Through his presentation, Nelson advised students to do their best in each school subject so they could do ‘neat’ things like he gets to do.
“Everything you study in school is important,” Nelson said. “I get to play video games for three hours a day and they pay me for that. I call it ‘Windtendo.’ “
In the end, students knew how about ‘cool’ Canadian air and even got to watch Grandview principal Dave Grubbs do the tornado dance with Nelson.
“It was fun. There was a lot of buzz around him,” Grubbs said. “The thing I’m most pleased about is the fact he (Nelson) promoted the academic aspect. I know he joked around about it with video games, but it was nice to see him emphasize academics and make the connection with math and science.”
Before leaving, Nelson was asked ‘How do you know all that stuff?”
“It’s the only thing I’m good at,” Nelson said with a laugh.
Leaving the gymnasium after Nelson’s presentation, the talk among students was the famous tornado dance and the juggling hail act, and they were most excited about getting a copy of weather maps and guides, and going home to watch the 4 p.m. Channel 7 news broadcast to see themselves on television.
“I liked how he knew all that and the jet stream thing was pretty cool,” said Grandview fifth-grader Connor Lowndes. “I didn’t know that tornadoes formed like that and my favorite part was the tornado dance because it was funny.”
“Mike Nelson is funny and interactive,” said fifth-grader Alec D’Rosario.
Grandview prides itself in the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District for being right on top of weather conditions. Grandview parent and research meteorologist at Metstat Inc., Tye Parzybok donated a full weather station called Advantage Pro and the school uses it to determine temperatures and weather conditions for the students’ recess.
“Weather has been a passion of mine forever, and I wanted to share it with them (the school),” Parzybok said.
Grubbs said the presentation with Nelson was also a way to recognize Parzybok.
“For Tye to donate that piece of equipment, the time and the expertise was well appreciated so we can hype up science and weather,” Grubbs said.
Breakout: Mike Nelson’s Weather Glossary
The state of the atmosphere at a specific time and with respect to its effect on life and human activities. It is the short term variations of the atmosphere, as opposed to the long term, or climatic, changes. It is often referred to in terms of brightness, cloudiness, humidity, precipitation, temperature, visibility, and wind.
An instrument attached to a weather balloon used to measure pressure, temperature, humidity, and winds aloft. Observations are made when the radiosonde is aloft and emits radio signals as it ascends. May be referred to as a RAOB, an acronym for RAdiosonde OBservation.
An area of strong winds that are concentrated in a relatively narrow band in the upper troposphere of the middle latitudes and subtropical regions of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Flowing in a semi-continuous band around the globe from west to east, it is caused by the changes in air temperature where the cold polar air moving towards the equator meets the warmer equatorial air moving polarward. It is marked by a concentration of isotherms and strong vertical shear.
Precipitation that originates in convective clouds, such as cumulonimbus, in the form of balls or irregular pieces of ice, which comes in different shapes and sizes. Hail is considered to have a diameter of 5 millimeter or more; smaller bits of ice are classified as ice pellets, snow pellets, or graupel. Individual lumps are called hailstones. It is reported as “GR” in an observation and on the METAR. Small hail and/or snow pellets is reported as “GS” in an observation and on the METAR.