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Behind the predictions at The Weather Channel: student group receives tour

Published: 05/09/2013

By: Dennis Donegan , Ryan Hile

Students in assistant professor Chandana Mitra's Climatology class in the Department of Geology and Geography visited The Weather Channel in Atlanta in March. The purpose of the trip was to engage students in learning opportunities outside of the classroom.

The Weather Channel was established in 1982 and is headquartered in Atlanta. The tour of TWC was led by Daniel Dix, senior weather graphics engineer and meteorologist (center person in group picture with the class). He is a tornado chaser and shared stories with the students about his adventures.

Students were shown the recently redesigned broadcast studio and office environment that serves as the heart of TWC's forecasting and media delivery operations. Graphics engineers, meteorologists, journalists and weather forecasters all work in the quiet, calm and professional setting. The group explored TWC's complex while operations were in-progress and had an opportunity to meet on-camera meteorologist Paul Goodloe and severe weather expert Greg Forbes.

The field trip included an overview of the Global Forecast Center, a partitioned area housing as many as four forecasters who continually update the forecasts for the U.S. The group also toured the Severe Weather Center where experts like Forbes deliver commentary on extreme weather situations as they develop. A highlight of the tour was a visit to the new broadcast studio. Students explored the massive studio area where many of the live broadcasts are made for public reception. TWC studio engineers remotely controlled the large high-definition cameras that silently crept up behind unaware students, surprising and delighting the group.

The Climatology class concluded the visit with some fun in the green-screen zone of the studio, as they were able to watch themselves on numerous monitors positioned around the workplace. TWC employees played along by changing the computer graphics from remote offices.

Tours of TWC are not readily available to the public, so the visit and tour of the facility was a unique opportunity for students in the Climatology class.

"It was a great experience to visit The Weather Channel. There was so much to discover and learn of how climatologists handle different climate models," said Sarmistha Singh, a student in the class. "It was fun to experience automated cameras and the huge studio which we see in news channels."

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