Penn State’s Fancy Weather Center
This past weekend was Parents & Families Weekend—an event sponsored by the Alumni Association and the Division of Student Affairs—and among the approximately 2,793 events available was an open house at the Joel N. Myers Weather Center, on the sixth floor of Walker Building.
The weather center was just renovated this past year. Last month Penn State announced that Joel Myers ’61, ’63g, ’71g, founder of AccuWeather, has pledged a $2 million gift to support the center, which has been renamed in his honor.
It’s a pretty impressive operation, starting with the bank of monitors you see as soon as you walk in the door. (See photos above and at left.) They offer views of just about every piece of weather data you could possibly need: NASA satellite images of Earth, U.S. surface temperatures, sunspot activity, you name it. Plus Webcam views of everywhere from Erie to Burlington to Paris.
Two students, Matt Rydzik and Greg Ferro, led the tour. We learned that the Campus Weather Service is the largest student-run weather forecasting operation in the country. We also learned that the students spend enormous amounts of time, well into the wee hours, working at the weather center. Apparently the running joke is that if you don’t like your roommate, it’s OK—you can just live at the weather center.
We saw a computer lab, which still has a chalkboard with State College’s climatology data going back to 1887. The student giving the tour said that during the renovations last spring, they deliberately kept the chalkboard as a holdover from the old weather center. It’s kind of charming, albeit a little hard to read, as you can see. (You can click on any of these photos to see them bigger.) The student mentioned that the Pennsylvania state climatologist is a Penn State faculty member: Paul Knight ’75, ’77g.
The other fun room we visited was the TV studio, on the fifth floor of the same building, where we found another student, Drew Anderson. One of the parents on the tour recognized Drew immediately: “Aren’t you the guy who did the weather on Game Day last weekend?” (He is.)
The studio is where the TV show Weather World originates; it’s also used for classes and for students to do occasional forecasts on ESPN-U. Drew showed us the TV equipment—the green screen and all that—and also talked about some of the art involved in being on TV, like taking a step toward the camera when there’s a point he wants to emphasize.
About the only thing we didn’t get to see was the roof of Walker Building, which is home to a lot of weather instruments, and which supposedly offers a very nice view of campus. One of the student guides told me that there are just too many important research instruments up there to allow a lot of tours to tromp through. Which is understandable. But clearly I need to go back over sometime and talk one of the faculty into taking me up there. I’ll report back when I do.
I’ll close with just one more photo for you; actually it’s a strip of three photos of some of the monitors in the Joel Myers Weather Center. I have absolutely no idea what’s going on in any of these images, but they sure are pretty to look at.
Tina Hay, editor
P.S. Among the other events of Parents & Families Weekend was an open house at the president’s office in Old Main, along with a trip to the Old Main bell tower. You can see photos from that at live.psu.edu.
Entry filed under: Alumni Association, University Park. Tags: AccuWeather, climatology, Drew Anderson, Greg Ferro, Joel Myers, Joel N. Myers Weather Center, Matt Rydzik, Old Main, Old Main bell tower, Parents & Families Weekend, Paul Knight, Walker Building, weather forecasting, Webcams.