AP NEWS

NWS festival draws weather enthusiasts

March 25, 2019

Whether their interest was hurricanes or rain or flooding, scores of Rio Grande Valley residents filtered through the National Weather Service’s Brownsville headquarters Saturday.

Carlos “Ernie” Castillo said after hearing a presentation about weather balloons—two of which were released during the event—that he came to the National Weather Service’s Weather Festival because he thought it would be fun.

“ I have an interest in weather,” particularly weather science, Castillo said.

Alyse Galvan, a recent graduate of Texas A&M who hopes to one day work for the National Weather Service, volunteered for the event at a booth where she taught children about flooding and hurricanes.

“ I’m so amazed at how many kids are interested in weather,” Galvan said, as two children asked her questions about a flood plain demonstration. “It’s awesome.”

Aylene Garcia and Sarai Gutierrez both toured the National Weather Service’s building where they got a firsthand look from employees at the work they do, which included showing them different stations inside the building with computers displaying multiple forecast models, including one station utilized for communicating directly with the National Hurricane Center.

“ Well, now I know they are always on the lookout for a tornado or any storm,” Garcia said.

She also has an interest in weather and likes to watch the Weather Channel, which was broadcast inside the National Weather Service’s building.

“ I’m interested in when there’s a storm,” Garcia said.

Harlingen High School South Air Force JROTC instructor Master Sgt. Armando S. Tsukano said he and his students volunteered at the event, helping direct parking in a field across from the National Weather Service.

“ We’re having a community service activity,” Tsukano said.

But this was just the first part of that activity.

Tsukano said he likes to have his volunteer activities have tangible value.

“ We’re going to be filling sandbags for the community,” he said, adding that the goal is to fill 5,000 sandbags.

The idea came about after the June 2018 flooding event that inundated the entire region.

National Weather Service Forecaster Mike Castillo said the Weather Festival is held every two years. Saturday marked the second festival.

“ We invite our partners out,” Castillo said.

Throughout the property, partner agencies like the United States Geological Service, the Brownsville Fire Department, the United States Coast Guard and the Texas National Guard all had booths set up.

The event is a chance to show the public the work the National Weather Service does that impacts the lives of Rio Grande Valley residents on a daily basis.

“ This is what we do,” Castillo said. “We’re in that building 24-7.”

mreagan@brownsvilleherald.com