As Good as it Gets: National Weather Center Offers Public Tours and Other Events to the General Public

While journalists and traditional media outlets enjoy special access to the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma, independent media, bloggers, and the general public can take advantage of tours and other events to gain entry to the NWC facilities.
The National Weather Center sits on a 22-acre site of the NE corner of Jenkins Ave and Highway 9 in Norman, OK photo ©2013 Lyann Valadez

The National Weather Center sits on a 22-acre site on the NE corner of Jenkins Ave and Highway 9 in Norman, OK
photo ©2013 Lyann Valadez

Tours of the NWC are offered to the general public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and each tour offers an overview of NWC affiliated units. The public tour includes a visit to the University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology, the NWC Roof Top Observatory, the NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, and The Norman National Weather Service Forecast Office and National Severe Storms Laboratory.
Meteorlogists in the Storm Prediction Center at the National Weather Center in Norman, OK. photo ©2013 Lyann Valadez

Meteorlogists in the Storm Prediction Center at the National Weather Center in Norman, OK.
photo ©2013 Lyann Valadez

All tours require a reservation, and should be scheduled at least two to four weeks in advance. Foreign nationals are required to complete and submit a Foreign National Visitor form. Tours are not available on federal or school holidays, and occasionally due to scheduled events.There is no charge for tours of the National Weather Center. For more information on scheduling tours, contact the NWC Tour Coordinator at visit@nwcnorman.org.     For more devoted weather fanatics, the National Weather Festival, held annually in November, highlights central Oklahoma weather related organizations and activities.
Preparation for an hourly balloon launch at the 2013 National Weather Festival. photo ©2013 Lyann Valadez

Preparation for an hourly balloon launch at the 2013 National Weather Festival.
photo ©2013 Lyann Valadez

During the Festival, visitors are allowed to view many of the Weather Center's facilities, and feature events include hourly weather balloon launches, emergency response vehicle and equipment displays, storm chaser vehicle displays, and children's activities. Booths fill the atrium of the NWC during the Weather Festival, and people can receive answers to questions about tornadoes, storm shelters, and weather patterns.
Nearly 5,000 people attended the 2013 National Weather Festival. photo ©2013 Lyann Valadez

Nearly 5,000 people attended the 2013 National Weather Festival.
photo ©2013 Lyann Valadez

              A time-lapse video of the NWC atrium during the 2013 National Weather Festival shows the development of the crowd of weather fans through the day: National Weather Festival Timelapse from Zac Flamig on Vimeo.
The Weather Sphere is located in the atrium of the National Weather Center. The Sphere is used to display large scale weather patterns as well as current local weather conditions. photo ©2013 Lyann Valadez

The Weather Sphere is located in the atrium of the National Weather Center. The Sphere is used to display large scale weather patterns as well as current local weather conditions.
photo ©2013 Lyann Valadez

  The Weather Sphere, located in the atrium of the National Weather Center, is a popular attraction. Tour Guide and meteorology student Tim Humphrey describes it as "a really great way to visualize weather data and it's also a really cool way to get the kids interested in weather".
The Weather Sphere is located in the atrium of the National Weather Center

The Weather Sphere in the atrium of the National Weather Center
photo ©2013 Lyann Valadez

  For more information about the Weather Sphere at the National Weather Center, please contact Daphne Thompson at 405-325-6892 or daphne.thompson@noaa.gov. For more information about the Science on a Sphere project, visit http://sos.noaa.gov/. For information on scheduling tours, contact the NWC Tour Coordinator at visit@nwcnorman.org. To read more about press passes in relation to the National Weather Center, click here!

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