Although the weather has been chilly, there have been several hot topics that have been discussed through the past few days here at the National Weather Association Conference in Madison, WI. From emerging technologies, to building a 'Weather Ready' national to the use of social media, a wide array of topics delve into the heart of meteorology.
Even before the conference started, the content was dealt a serious blow. In a directive that came down from the Department of Commerce, which is the overseeing agency of the National Weather Service, all funding for NWS employees to attend conferences was pulled. While the timing seemed curious, this applies to all conferences. Employees could take their own time off and attend on their own dime, but with a hefty amount of presentations and posters submitted by NWS forecasters, organizers scrambled to find alternatives.
So far, by using technologies like Go2Meeting and Skype, presentations can still be given virtually (with a bit of patience as well). It's also nice to see some NWS employees still attending in person. Because of the distance, I presume no one from the Mt. Holly NWS Office or Philadelphia media attended. However, high-profile meteorologists did attend. Jim Cantore and Nick Walker from The Weather Channel, Dave Freeman, from KSN in Wichita attended. This year's NWA Broadcaster of the Year, James Spann, was also in attendance.
Conferences like these are a great way to make connections and meet new people. Personally, the welcoming nature of the meteorologists here, both broadcast and operational, is warm and refreshing - especially to an 'outsider' like myself. I'd like to thank the organizers and everyone who I met and didn't get a chance to meet, and I look forward to attending next year in Charlestown, SC. Now I prepare for my 27 hour trek back to Philly.
Editor's Note: Here's some insight into the last-second cancellations of NWS staff from our friends at Capital Weather Gang down in Washington that was published earlier this afternoon, a couple of hours before this article ran.