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2011 Severe Weather Symposium

This page is for archival purposes only.

Join Emergency Managers, Storm Spotters, Media, Meteorologists, and Weather Enthusiasts for Douglas County Emergency Management's Annual Severe Weather Symposium. The event will be held 7:00 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 19, 2011 at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire in Lawrence, Kansas.

The Symposium is for Storm Spotters, but is open to the public. This day is designed to train and expand your knowledge in advanced storm development, spotter safety, and the importance of spotter reports. The presentations will include incredible storm videos; experts in the field from the National Weather Service and the private sector, and will conclude with a Round table discussion with local television meteorologists.

Guest Presenters include: Tim Samaras, Team Twistex / Storm Chaser; David Imy, Operations Branch Chief / SPC; Scott Blair, Forecaster / WFO Topeka; and Joe Lauria, Weekend Meteorologist / Fox4 Kansas City.

The fee for the Symposium is $15.00, which can be sent to:
  • Douglas County Emergency Management
  • C/O Jillian Rodrigue
  • 111 East 11th St., Unit 200
  • Lawrence, KS 66044
The registration deadline is: Friday, March 11th, 2011.


Symposium Speaker: Tim Samaras

Tim Samaras

"Tornado Core Measurements: A mix of Science and Adventure"
Tim Samaras spends May and June in a van outfitted with GPS, radios, scanners, monitors, a wireless Internet connection, and satellite tracking instruments. His harrowing task: to spot tornadoes, try to put himself in their path, and then deploy newly designed probes that measure meteorological conditions in the vortex of the beasts. Then he promptly gets out of the way. "Data from the probes helps us understand tornado dynamics and how they form. With that piece of the puzzle we can make more precise forecasts and ultimately give people earlier warnings," Samaras explained. "It all started when I was about six years old and saw that fantastic tornado in The Wizard of Oz," Samaras said. About 20 years ago he began storm chasing. "About five years ago, as an engineer," he noted, "I designed the next generation of probe to measure pressure drops inside tornadoes." Samaras's "turtle" probe has recorded record-breaking drops in pressure—the condition that triggers a tornado's extreme wind speeds. "This information is especially crucial, because it provides data about the lowest 10 meters (33 feet) of a tornado, where houses, vehicles, and people are.

Symposium Speaker: David Imy

David Imy

"The Decision Process for issuing a Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado Watch"
David Imy received a B.S in Meteorology at Texas A&M University in 1979. He entered the National Weather Service two weeks after graduation and now has 31 years of federal service. He started his career as an intern at the Little Rock, AR Forecast office and then transferred to the Jackson, MS Forecast office as the Warning Coordination Meteorologist. In 1989, he was selected to be one of six instructors for a 4 week resident training course for all NWS employees on the newly deployed WSR-88D. David was promoted to the Denver, CO Forecast Office in 1992 as the Deputy Meteorologist-In Charge. In 1996, he moved back to Norman as the Storm Prediction Center Operations Branch Chief and is his current position. His duties include supervising 22 forecasters and work some operational shifts. David's research interests include all operational aspects regarding severe weather and especially tornadoes.

Symposium Speaker: Scott Blair

Scott Blair

"Visual Precursors to Tornado Formation"
Scott Blair is a forecaster with the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) in Topeka, KS. Prior to arriving in Topeka, he served as a meteorologist with the NWS in Goodland, KS. In 2005, he graduated from the University of Louisiana at Monroe with a Bachelor of Science degree in Atmospheric Sciences. While in Louisiana, Scott was employed by KEDM in Monroe, LA as a broadcast meteorologist, providing daily weather forecasts and on-scene live reports during several landfalling major hurricanes. Over the past few years, Mr. Blair has published work on storm-scale observational meteorology studies, emerging technologies to improve communication, and the severe weather vulnerability of motorists. He is currently a principle investigator in the field project HailSTONE that's examining the hail-fall character through high-resolution direct measurements in convective storms.

Symposium Speaker: Joe Lauria

Joe Lauria

"Same Tornado...Different Results"
Joe Lauria is the weekend news meteorologist for FOX 4. He joined the station in January 1995, but weather has been an important part of his life since childhood. Growing up in New York, Joe remembers being fascinated by clouds and snowstorms at the age of 10. This award-winning meteorologist was chief meteorologist at KOSA-TV in Midland, TX for six years. The Associated Press voted him the best weathercaster of the year for the state of Texas. He’s also been chief meteorologist at WAYK-TV in Orlando, FL; KFKF-FM in Kansas City; and WCEE-TV in Mt. Vernon, IL. Joe gives dozens of speeches and severe weather seminars for the young and old each year. He was named President of the KC Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) from ‘01-‘03 and was Vice President from ‘08-‘10. He is a member of the National Weather Association (NWA). Both organizations have given him their Seal of Approval for excellence in weather broadcasting. He has obtained the Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM) designation from the AMS, the highest honor possible for a TV meteorologist. In 1984, Joe graduated from St. Louis University with a bachelor's degree in meteorology. He considers one of his career highlights to be helping the viewers get through the tornado outbreaks that have affected the area for the past years including the May 4, 2003 KC Tornado Outbreak.

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Roundtable Discussion Participants

  • Scott Blair: Forecaster: WFO Topeka
  • Tom Hagen: Meteorologist: KSNT27 Topeka
  • David Imy: Operations Branch Chief: SPC
  • Joe Lauria: Weekend Meteorologist: Fox4 Kansas City
  • Matt Miller: Chief Meteorologist, : KTKA49 Topeka
  • Aaron Reeves: Meteorologist, : KSNT27 Topeka
  • Tim Samaras: Team Twistex: Storm Chaser
Presentation Schedule
Saturday, March 19, 2011, 7:00 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
Lawrence Arts Center
200 W. 9th Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
7:00 a.m. - 7:45 a.m.Registration
7:45 a.m. - 8:00 a.m.Welcome
8:00 a.m. - 8:45 a.m.1st Speaker
9:00 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.2nd Speaker
10:00 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.3rd Speaker
11:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.4th Speaker
12:00 p.m. - 12:45 p.m. Roundtable


Check back for updates on vendors.

Special Thanks

Douglas County Emergency Management would like to give a special thanks to:
  • Aman Reaka for designing the flyers and brochures.
  • Paul Davis Restoration for providing refreshments.
  • Wyandotte County Emergency Management for providing the printing of flyers and brochures.

Past Symposiums