Pro Weather Trackers Encourage Public's Help

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For the last few weeks, the National Weather Service has been moving across the region, not to track storms, but to find others to help in that endeavor. The Skywarn program made its way to a packed house on the A&M campus Tuesday evening.

For Gene Hafele out of the National Weather Service's Houston-Galveston office, his trek across Southeast Texas has included a simple message.

"What I encourage people to do is just to observe the weather from wherever they are, whether it be at home or at work or whatever," Hafele said.

And the Skywarn program is as crucial a part of their storm tracking as their technology. Through seminars across the region based on a national program, the Weather Service's meteorologists provide the basics and the steps thereafter to keep eyes on the skies during severe storms.

"We don't really know what's really going on on the ground," Hafele said, "so it's really important that we get feedback, and if we can get it in real time, that's even more important.

"One, we kind of educate the people of the different communities on severe weather and safety rules and things like that," he continued. "But more importantly, we're trying to encourage people to get feedback to us on what's going on on the ground."

And for A&M's next generation of storm trackers, Tuesday's meeting at the O&M Building on campus provided a rare opportunity to hear from the experts.

"For us, as weather geeks, it's like pro athletes to anybody who loves sports," said student Brent McRoberts, who also chases storms through A&M's well-known club. "Essentially, that's who we look up to. That's why we come to school, most of us, is to get a job with the National Weather Service."

Though it doesn't take employment to be a critical part of the process.

For more on Skywarn, click on the link in the Weather section here at