January 26, 2012

Whither The Weather? For Answers, Turn To ‘Weather Whys’

tornado on a texas road

A tornado touches down on a Texas roadside.

Ever wonder why the sky turns green before a hail storm, why there are sometimes rings around the moon, if rainmaking efforts really work or who made the first barometer?

These are some of the more than 100 topics posed to Texas A&M’s top weather experts and answered each week in a column called Weather Whys. The free nuggets of weather wisdom have been issued to various media outlets as a weekly service of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences for more than 10 years, and they showcase faculty expertise in a particular area.

Texas A&M’s Division of Marketing and Communications, in conjunction with the College of Geosciences, writes and distributes the weekly column, which uses a Q and A format on a particular topic. Various faculty members serve as sources and provide concise answers per the requests of receiving media, who are known for their get-to-the-point-in-a-hurry in today’s fast-paced communications environment.

Photos are also used to illustrate the weather topic of the week

“We have some world-class faculty in our various departments,” says Kate Miller, dean of the College of Geosciences. “They are always eager to answer a question if they can, and they provide us with excellent sources for Weather Whys material. This is a great way for the college to expand its community outreach efforts.

“Texas A&M has always been known for its service to the state, and this column is one way of informing Texans of weather topics they want need to know about and are interested in.”

Adds John Nielsen-Gammon, who serves as Texas State Climatologist in addition to Regents Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences and  a frequent source used in Weather Whys: “Part of my job as state climatologist is community outreach, and if that means speaking to the media, I will gladly do it.

“I think it’s important that people get the information they need, whether it’s the general public or a major media outlet. Right now, Texas is going through one of its worst times in its history with a severe drought, so there is a real need for accurate information.”

lightning over a texas field

Lightning strikes a Texas field.

Although Weather Whys is aimed primarily at weekly newspapers in Texas — the state has more than 400 — other media outlets have used it.

It has been source material for radio stations such as WOAI in San Antonio, KRLD in Dallas and other large metro areas. National outlets such as National Public Radio have used the column, in addition to numerous Texas daily newspapers, including the Bryan-College Station Eagle, The Huntsville Item, Mexia Daily News, Panhandle Herald, Waxahachie Daily News, New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, Waco Tribune-Herald and many others.

As for the answers to those questions posed above, all of them will be revealed in upcoming Weather Whys columns — a good reason to stay tuned.

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Media contact: Keith Randall, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-4644

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1 Comment to Whither The Weather? For Answers, Turn To ‘Weather Whys’

  1. The “photo” of a tornado touching down on a Texas roadside accompanying this article is obviously computer-generated, possibly from the movie “Twister”. Why do I get the distinct feeling that the author did a google image search for “twister” and grabbed the first one without checking to see if it was real?

  2. Ben on January 27th, 2012
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