The venue for the 17th annual Central Plains Severe Weather Symposium and Family Weatherfest was bigger. But so was the crowd on Saturday at Nebraska Innovation Campus and Convention Center in Lincoln.
In some cases, the crowds waited up to 20 minutes to experience exhibits, and in some hallways, guests stood shoulder to shoulder. That pace continued for hours, and helped fill — literally — the Innovation Campus auditorium for the afternoon severe-weather educational symposium.
But throughout the morning, more than 65 exhibitors lined the halls and conference rooms at Innovation Campus as the event branched out from meteorology to include science, aeronautic and history exhibits and demonstrations. Indoor exhibits explored causes and effects of weather, as well as drought, climate change, natural resources and health with the help of experts from across the university and the state.
Outside, about a dozen emergency management and storm chaser vehicles were on display, drawing crowds of their own despite rain.
“It exceeded all of my expectations at our new home for the event,” said Ken Dewey, organizer for the annual event and climatologist with the School of Natural Resources. “Our indoor exhibits were triple the number that we had last year, and we increased from four outdoor exhibits to 15 this year.
“The UNL (SNR and EAS) student-run hands-on education exhibits were especially popular.”
At the rain gauge challenge, children – and sometimes adults – raced to get the most water in the gauge using wet sponges for 10 seconds. At another, they learned about air pressure, and at still another, they learned how people, animals, ecology and health are all connected. Colored yarn connected child-decorated pictures of animal and people to their homes in farms, prairies, cities, forests or rivers.
“There’s so much to do,” said Jena Johnson of Lincoln. She and her three daughters were attending for the first time; the salamander and turtle at the herpetology exhibit left an impression on her oldest daughter, Issy Johnson.
Lisa Thompson and her grandchildren, on the other hand, have attended for years and were loving the new venue.
“It’s hard to find something that all my family can go to,” the Lincoln woman said. “Here, there are lots of good and interactive exhibits.”
They expect to come back again next year, for the 18th annual Weatherfest.
With one more year behind him, Dewey, too, is looking to next year. He’s already set the date: April 7, 2018.
At Nebraska Innovation Campus.
Weatherfest sponsors include the School of Natural Resources, the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the College of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources, and Nebraska Extension, all at the university; State Farm Insurance; and Raytheon. Also providing assistance are the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Nebraska; UNL Meteorology Club; National Weather Service in Omaha; Lancaster County Emergency Management; Nebraska Emergency Management; and Barnes and Noble Bookstores.
For more information about the annual Weatherfest and the severe weather symposium, visit weatherfest.unl.edu.
Shawna Richter-Ryerson, Natural Resources
More details at: http://weatherfest.unl.edu