NORMAN — Gasps of glee echoed across the front yard of the National Weather Center Saturday morning as a weather balloon took flight into the sunny atmosphere.
The periodic balloon launches were just one of many exciting activities taking place on the center’s campus 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the annual National Weather Festival.
After the noon launch, News9 meteorologist Matt Mahler said the festival made the perfect opportunity for Oklahomans to come out and learn about the different organizations that keep them safe during severe weather events.
“Especially after these May tornadoes and everything, people want to know where their warnings come from,” Mahler said. “They want to know who’s the one helping to keep them safe. They can put a face to all the TV stations, they can come see all of this and meet the meteorologists they see on TV.”
Near the balloon launches, fair attendees had the opportunity to get up close and personal with news helicopters, research vehicles and emergency response vehicles. Booths were also set up outside to allow visitors to ask experts about a variety of weather-related topics.
Other events taking place outside included performances by the Oklahoma City Thunder Girls, Storm Chasers and Thunder Drummers.
Inside at the center’s atrium, hundreds stood shoulder-to-shoulder as they shuffled in slow-moving lines for their chance to see the interactive informational booths displayed by dozens of weather-related organizations.
Some guests took time out from the booths to attend presentations given throughout the day by organizations such as Oklahoma Strong, NOAA, OU Health Sciences Center and AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions. Topics included “Overcoming Your Weather Fears” and “Your Tornado Questions Answered.”
Mike Smith, AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions senior vice president, gave a presentation titled “The Tornado Warning System: Where Do We Go From Here?”