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2012 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 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 10, 2012 at South Middle School, 2734 Louisiana St. 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 as well as spotter safety and responsibility. The presentations will include incredible storm videos; experts in the field from the National Weather Service and the private sector, and will include a Panel Discussion with local television meteorologists, guest speakers, and NWS meteorologists. Guest Presenters include: Bryan Busby, KMBC Chief Meteorologist; Jay Antle, Johnson County Community College Professor and Storm Chaser; Chad Omitt, Warning Coordination Meteorologist / NWS Topeka; Steve Runnels, Warning Coordination Meteorologist / NWS Springfield, MO; John Utech, President of Weather Lab; and Dr. Harold Brooks, Head of the Modeling, Observation, and Analysis Team / National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL).

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
A boxed lunch is included with registration and payment, but payment must be received prior to March 1st.

The registration deadline is: Thursday, March 1st, 2012.


Jay Antle

"Twisters: Living in Tornado Alley"
Speaker Jay Antle
Dr. Jay Antle was born in Texas where he lived for the first 21 years of his life. He completed his undergraduate education in history and then moved on to Arizona State University for his Master's degree and then to the University of Kansas in 1992 for his Ph.D. in American Environmental History.

While in graduate school, he participated in an exchange program with Johnson County Community College that ultimately led him to secure a professorship there in 2000 that he still holds. His responsibilities at JCCC have grown to include heading up the college's Sustainability program as the Executive Director of the college's Sustainability Center. He currently lives in Lawrence and is an avid hiker and storm chaser.

Harold Brooks

"The Record Breaking 2011 Spring Tornado Season: Historic Perspectives and Challenges for the Future"
Speaker Harold Brooks
Dr. Brooks is a research meteorologist and Head of the Modeling, Observation, and Analysis Team at the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) in Norman, Oklahoma. He grew up in Saint Louis, Missouri. As an undergraduate, he majored in physics and math at William Jewell College, with a year at the University of Cambridge studying Archaeology and Anthropology. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois and a M.A. from Columbia University. After graduating from Illinois, he was a National Research Council Research Associate at NSSL and joined the permanent staff there in 1992.

During his career, his work has focused on why, when, and where severe thunderstorms occur and what their effects are, and on how to evaluate weather forecasts. In 2002, he received the United States Department of Commerce's Silver Medal for his work on the distribution of severe thunderstorms in the United States and, in 2007, he received the NOAA Administrator's Award for work on extreme weather and climate change. He has been Co-Chief Editor of the American Meteorological Society's journal, Weather and Forecasting, and was a member of the World Meteorological Organization's Joint Working Group on Verification from 2000-2009, and is currently on the steering committee of the European Conference on Severe Storms and the Climate Change Science Working Group for the US National Climate Assessment. In 2011, he was named a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

Bryan Busby

"Covering The Severe Weather Outbreak: May 22, 2011 KMBC First Alert Weather: Planning the Work, Working the Plan"
Speaker Bryan Busby
I love my job. It was a childhood dream of mine to do TV weather. Since the third grade, this is what I wanted to do. I have a blast up there and I hope it shows."

Coming to KMBC 9 NEWS in 1985, Chief Meteorologist Bryan Busby quickly established himself as Kansas City's leading meteorologist. In addition, Bryan serves as Chief Meteorologist for Carter Broadcasting, providing weather reports on radio station KPRS, Hot 103 Jamz. Just recently, Bryan was awarded the prestigious 2010 “Meteorologist of the Year” award by the American Meteorological Society.

Bryan has put KMBC-TV on the "weather map" with innovative programs like "Guaranteed Weather," "EarthStation," "Weather-To-Go," "Bryan Goes to School," and "Instant Weather Network,” a weather display system which earned him U.S. Patent Number 5,943,630.

Fun, interaction, and community outreach are key ingredients that make Bryan Kansas City's favorite television personality. "I never know what to expect when I do an on-location weather report. Spontaneous reactions make my job fun and sometimes very challenging."

Bryan was appointed to the National Chapter of the American Meteorological Society's Board of Broadcast Meteorologists, and named Chairman for that committee 1997-1998. That same year, he was considered for the weathercaster position at Good Morning America.

Chad Omitt

"Impact Based Warning Test and Thunderstorm Morphology"
Speaker Chad Omitt
Chad has been a meteorologist with the National Weather Service for 13 years and is currently the Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM) at the NWS office in Topeka, Kansas. In this position he serves as the principle NWS liaison with the emergency management and media communities and is responsible for all of his office's public education and outreach activities in northeast Kansas. Essentially his activities are aimed at making the office's forecast and warning programs more effective. Chad's current focus is on improving public awareness, preparedness, and response to hazardous weather through incorporating social science research into NWS products and services. As such he has been an active member of the NWS Weather and Society*Integrated Studies (WAS*IS) team. WASIS is a grassroots movement that is changing the weather enterprise by integrating social science into meteorological research and practice.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Chad attended the University of Wisconsin and graduated with a degree in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. He got his start as a meteorologist in the private sector at WeatherData Inc. in Wichita, KS as a Storm Warning Meteorologist. After 5 years with WeatherData Inc. he joined the National Weather Service where he has worked for offices in Milwaukee, Wichita, Indianapolis and currently at Topeka.

He will be presenting a brief on the upcoming Impact Based Warning Test that area NWS offices will participate in. He will also present a talk on severe thunderstorm morphology and storm structure for spotters.

Steve Runnels

"The May 22, 2011 Severe Weather Outbreak: From the NWS Perspective"
Speaker Steve Runnels
Steve Runnels currently serves as the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service Office in Springfield, MO. In this position, he serves as a forecaster; works with emergency management and media partners to ensure products and services are effective; and oversees severe weather operations.

Prior to arriving at Springfield in 1995, Steve received his Bachelor of Science degree from Central Michigan University in 1987. He began his NWS career in 1988 at the NWS office in Evansville, IN and then transferred to the new forecast office in Kansas City/Pleasant Hill in 1993.

Steve is also a licensed amateur radio operator.

John Utech

"The Challenges of Storm Spotters"
Speaker John Utech
John Utech is the President of "Weather Lab" based out of Blackwell, Oklahoma. His small company sells weather equipment to city, county, state Emergency Management agencies and departments, including the Department of Defense.

He recently attended and participated in the "Weather Ready Nation" discussion in Norman, Oklahoma. Mr. Utech is also on the Planning Committee for the National Severe Weather Workshop held in Norman, Oklahoma. He is one of only 4 External Reviewers for the new Met-Ed on-line Storm Spotter Training Course. He recently released a white paper and case study on "Reducing the Workload of the Emergency Manager", and produced the DVD "...To be a Storm Spotter".

Mr. Utech was also the Editor for the Oklahoma Emergency Managers Newsletter, "The OKEM", and he was also selected to be the Director of the newly formed "Severe Weather Operations Department" in Blackwell, Oklahoma.

He still broadcasts severe weather information on Ponca City Radio Station, WBBZ, and his humorous approach to storm spotter activities keeps him in demand as a speaker.

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Panel Discussion Participants

  • Jay Antle, Professor and Storm Chaser: Johnson County Community College
  • Dr. Harold Brooks, Head of the Modeling, Observation, and Analysis Team: National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL)
  • Bryan Busby, Meteorologist: KMBC Chief
  • Matt Elwell, Chief Meteorologist: 6News Lawrence
  • Joe Lauria, Meteorologist: Fox 4
  • Matt Miller, Chief Meteorologist: KSNT Topeka
  • Chad Omitt, Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM): NWS Topeka
  • Al Pietrycha, Science and Operations Officer (SOO): NWS Goodland
  • Steve Runnels, Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM): NWS Springfield, MO
  • Chris Suchan, Chief Meteorologist: KCTV5/KSMO


Special Thanks

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

Past Symposiums