Saturday, April 21, 2007

Field Trip Friday

Yesterday two big events were on the agenda.

First, the National Weather Service ABQ office held it's annual open house for weather spotters. We have maintained a NWS issued precipitation meter and we are weather spotter station 53 for their "CityNet" program--although we are now outside the city. They have added several other spotters in the East Mountains--soon they will have to change the name to "CountyNet."

So, despite looming paper and presentation deadlines, Bruce, N. and I hopped into Henry for a trip to the NWS.

Here you see N. standing in front of the antique computer that launches weather balloons twice a day, at 4 AM and 4 PM (Zero and 1200 Zulu). (Bruce has a cute way of stepping in with sandwich in hand when I snapped a shot. I lost a few because all you could see was the sandwich).

It is an antique, but it still works--so far.

It is telling that the NWS is one government agency that citizens get services from every day, and important ones at that, and yet they have severe budgetary restrictions going back to Ronald Reagan's presidency. It took them 20 years and countless lives lost in weather emergencies befure they got Doppler Radar in place. The TV stations had them long before the NWS! (They did not say this at NWS--they are good civil servants--but I read it elsewhere).

Here is N. at the forcast desk.

There are several stations at the NWS. There is the Aviation Desk, the Forcast Desk, the Long-Term Outlook Desk (which does 7 day forcasting) and then there is a communications center for talking to the weather spotters. If we get serious rain, wind, hail, snow or see a tornado, we call it in. We also call in temperatures and barometric pressures twice a day. With our terrain, they need this information to forcast winds more accurately. Communications is also important for weather emergencies--like the New Years Snowstorm!

We had a tour of every desk and learned how the meteorologists do their work. N. learned that most of them now have a B.S. in Meteorology and that there are only a few schools that have the degree.

After the NWS, we ran some errands, including getting supplies for N.'s Scout Camp-o-ree.

The Sandia district of the Great Southwest Council had their annual Camp-O-Ree at Cedro Peak--just a few miles from us. We took N. there instead of meeting at the church where his troop meets.

A Camp-O-Ree is not just a regular camping trip. Rather, many different troops gather together and they practice various field exercises. Two things N. mentioned were night orienteering and field first aid.

This year, in honor of the scouting anniversary, the theme was the Boer War. Lord Baden-Powell got his idea for a scouting movement for boys during his service in the Boer War in South Africa. So the boys learned a little something about the Dutch "Afrikaaners" and the English Colonists and the war they fought at the turn of the 20th century.

Here is N. all ready for his Camp-O-Ree experience.

He was not thrilled about my taking his picture, but I told him that was my job as his mother. "Someday..." I started.

"I'll thank you for it! I know, I know!" he completed my sentence.

These boys learn some amazing things in scouts.

This afternoon, I picked up a very tired and wind-burned young scout from his experience. He said the best part was crawling through a simulated mine-field at 3 AM using their compasses in the dark to orienteer.

Only a dedicated scout would be enthusiastic about that!


Kaber said...

I remember our trip to the meteorolgical station! I think Connor liked the green wall best.... (for TV news filming). Gavin loved the storm chaser programs.

Looks like a fun day!

Angela, MotherCrone said...

Wow! My son is traveling to New Mexico this summer with his scout troop for two weeks at Philmont. How exciting to live in the area!