Life in the Volunteer's Shoes

By: Amanda Worrell


     As a young child, weather had always stunned, amused and interested me. Going through my high school career, I had no clue what I wanted to end up doing for the rest of my life, until my junior year. I then took meteorology as an extra science course and fell in love right away. After that course I went out in the Great Plains chasing storms and knowing that meteorology was my future profession. Who knew that it would lead me here, working at the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Virginia?

I began my volunteer work on Saturday, February 4, 2006. That day proved to be very exciting and a great introduction into the world of weather. Within the Blacksburg Warning Area there was a strong cold front moving through, that produced severe weather. I was stunned to actually be able to look at radar and see a storm that produced an F0 and an F1 tornado.

Since that day, I have had many tasks that I have had to complete. During the late winter and early spring months, I had the task of verifying local snow totals, as well as recording them for record. This task entailed phoning residents, police stations, and highway departments to acquire the snow totals for their counties or towns. This work was later placed into maps and weather statements for the public to view.

There are many projects, presentations, and seminars that are done by the National Weather Service. I've been very fortunate to do a research project on local area fog. This study entailed many hours of researching all fog in the past thirty years in our local area. After collecting the days of fog, they had to be searched through and placed into a spreadsheet for easy viewing. Once they were placed into a spreadsheet I began a long process of creating a presentation. All in all the work took about three months to complete.

I’ve spent many hours looking at radar and helping to watch for any severe or dangerous storms that may be present. These storms pass through our area and we, as a weather service, must verify any reports of damaging winds, heavy rainfall, hail or possible tornadoes. To verify the storms, I had to call local residents and authorities to see what damage had been done.

Most of the hard work has been counteracted by the great impression, the learning experiences, and the people here. I’ve learned so many things being able to volunteer here. Everyone that I have worked with has offered great advice as well as instruction when needed. There are many applications and skills that I have learned that I’m going to carry with me through college to help me become a better meteorologist. I owe many thanks to those at the National Weather Service that have helped me learn as much as possible for my future goals. To achieve my goal as a meteorologist, I plan to pursue a general studies degree at New River Community College and then transfer out-of-state to the University Of North Carolina at Asheville to get my degree in meteorology.