Phoenix to host annual WeatherFest event Sunday - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Phoenix to host annual WeatherFest event Sunday

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Posted: Friday, January 9, 2009 5:54 pm | Updated: 1:31 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

It's an old line: Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it. For a few hours this weekend, you can get your hands on it.

The American Meteorologist Society is holding its eighth annual WeatherFest - what an organizer called "a supersized science fair" - in downtown Phoenix on Sunday. Admission is free.

WeatherFest is part of the 89th annual meeting of the AMS.

The meeting's theme is "Urban Weather and Climate: Now and the Future."

AMS spokeswoman Stephanie Kenitzer said that the organization's meetings used to be completely private affairs. But the adults who work in the field realized that they weren't doing anything to spark younger generations' interest.

"Our goal, as a society, is to install that passion for science in kids," Kenitzer said.

So AMS, for one day, opens the doors to the public. The first WeatherFest, which took place in 2002, drew 500 people; last year's event in New Orleans drew 3,000, Kenitzer said.

WeatherFest features many interactive exhibits, such as making tornadoes in a bottle and using a parachute to explain unique atmospheric properties. But there's also information to be had on college scholarships and career opportunities.

Exhibitors are coming from around the nation. For example, SeaWorld will bring penguins from San Diego to show how animals are affected by climate change.

But there also will be a local flavor. Present will be the Arizona Department of Health Services, emergency management officials from the state and Maricopa County, the Arizona Science Center, Arizona State University's Global Institute of Sustainability, the University of Arizona and Salt River Project.

Three raffle drawings will be held, with prizes ranging from weather radios to books to umbrellas. Meteorologists from the valley's television stations are scheduled to serve as emcees.

Kenitzer said WeatherFest is an excellent opportunity for local Boy Scouts to fulfill the requirements for the Weather merit badge.

Once WeatherFest is over, the serious science begins. The AMS has scheduled four days of presentations on new findings in the fields of weather, climate, oceanography and other related fields.

The meeting also marks the opening of the new 1.1 million-square-foot North Building of the expanded Phoenix Convention Center.

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