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October 3rd-5th, 2008

Riverfest, 2008

On Saturday October 4th and Sunday October the National Weather Service in Wilmington, NC attended the 30th Annual Riverfest celebration in downtown Wilmington. We were one of over 150 craft vendors that were set up on Water Street. It was estimated that over 150,000 people attended Riverfest over the course of the weekend.

Our booth location was different than in years past as we were directly on Water Street at the corner of Princess Street. This more visible location along with picture-perfect weather kept our booth busy. In our booth we had a display up on recent hurricanes to hit the Cape Fear area along with information on the Myrtle Beach Tornado of 2001. We handed our brochures on hurricanes, flooding, rip currents, and safe boating to name a few. A few new items, such as the "Turn Around Don't Drown" magnet and the new NOAA Weather Radio brochure were very popular. In fact the kids loved the Owlie Skywarn coloring book so much that we ran out by midday Sunday!

By far the biggest attraction to our booth was the debut of our Tornado Machine. The idea came from meteorologist Stephen Keebler who saw a design for the machine from our partners at the National Weather Service in Huntsville, AL. Stephen was instrumental in getting this project started by acquiring the PVC pipe and the fogger for the tornado. Stephen put this project in motion over the last few years. (ET) Electronics Technician David Black began to work on the tornado last spring and was helped throughout the summer by his neighbor. (ITO) Information Technology Officer Carl Morgan and (ET) Electronics Technician Ivan Gonzales helped to put the finishing touches on the tornado just prior to Riverfest. We will have more on the making of this tornado in the coming weeks

The goal of the tornado machine was to attract people to our booth that otherwise would have never stopped by. At large events it was always hard to compete with funnel cakes and food. Through the use of the tornado, young and old stopped by to check it out. A couple in their 20s stopped by the booth because the tornado caught their eye. After a few minutes they left with brochures on flooding, rip currents, and a cloud chart. This machine enabled thousands of people to receieve free life saving information on weather because it presuaded them to visit our booth.

In addition to the tornado machine and free brochures, anybody that stopped by our booth could sign up for a free raffle. We raffled off a total of 4 rain gauges and 20 mini-tornadoes. 162 people signed up for the raffle with drawings twice on Saturday and again on Sunday. For those that could not be present at the drawings, we are now in the process of making sure everyone receives their prize.

A special thanks goes out to Ann Kirby who is on the board of directors for Riverfest. She made sure that we had a great location on Water Street and more importantly, she made sure we had power for our tornado machine! Thanks Ann.

Set-Up/Breakdown October 3rd and October 5th 2008
Meteorologist Mike Ross loading up the van for Riverfest
WCM (warning coordination meteorologist) Steve Pfaff setting up the tables
WCM (warning coordination meteorologist) Steve pfaff setting up the tent
SOO (Science Operations Officer) Reid Hawkins unloading the tornado machine
SOO (Science Operations Officer) Reid Hawkins moving the tornado machine
Finding the right spot for the tornado machine
Meteorologist Erik Heden pouring water into the tornado machine
Reid and Erik set up the mobile weather station
Reid putting up images of Hurricane Fran
National Weather Service Wilmington, 2008 Riverfest Booth
Erik Heden and Ann Kirby.  Ann made sure we had a great location at Riverfest
Meteorologist Mark Bacon and Erik Heden packed up late Sunday and it all fit in the van!
Day One October 4th, 2008
Soo (Science Operations Officer) Reid Hawkins explains how to set-up a NOAA Weather Radio
Two kids check our the tornado machine
More kids checking out the tornado machine
Olivia checks out the tornado machine
Meteorologist Dave Loewenthal explains how the tornado machine works
WWAY Channel 3 meteorologist Sonya Stevens and her husband stop by to see the tornado machine
Anyone who stopped by our booth could sign up for free to win one of 4 rain gauges or 20 mini-tornadoes
This is one of the 20 mini-tornadoes that were raffled off
A couple checks out the display on hurricane Fran and Isabel
Meteorologist Dave Loewenthal hands out one of our most popular brochures, the Skywatcher Chart
Former MIC (Meteorologist In Charge), Richard Anthony stops by to check out the booth
The kids loved the Owlie Skywarn coloring book.  In fact we ran out by midday Sunday
Day Two October 5th, 2008
Many brochures were handed out including this one on hurricanes
Weather in the lower 80s with plenty of sunshine draws quite a crowd!
Looking down Water Street from our booth location
Meteorologist Erik Heden explains how you can win a mini-tornado if you sign up for the free raffle
Becky and Kayleigh stop by to see if the hype of the tornado machine is warranted
Not just the kids were fascinated by the tornado machine
Two kids watch as a funnel begins to form in the tornado machine
Two kids watch as a funnel now forms in the machine
The crowd on Water Street.  An estimated weekend total of over 150,000 people attended Riverfest
From left to right, (ITO) Information Technology Officer Carl Morgan and (MIC) Meteorologist In Charge Mike Caropolo
take a break from the crowds to pose for a picture
From left to right, Kayleigh and Anthony check out the tornado machine
From left to right, Brent and meteorologist Mark Bacon.  Brent heard that we would be 
at Riverfest by listening to his NOAA Weather Radio
National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office, Wilmington NC
2015 Gardner Drive
Wilmington, NC 28405
(910) 762-4289

Page Author:
Web Master's E-mail:  ilm.webmaste r@noaa.gov
Page Last Modified: October 7th, 2008