Meteorologist says weather is difficult to predict

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Educators attend workshops for current information on science, technology, engineering and math.

By Maria Gardner

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Predicting the weather is an educated guess, Albert Flores, chief meteorologist at WOIA television station, told an audience of about 20 at the Out in Space Down to Earth Educator STEM conference Feb. 25 in Scobee Education Center.

Sponsored by Education Service Center, Region 20, Our Lady of the Lake University and the Scobee center, the 23rd annual conference drew educators from the San Antonio area to learn about the most current findings in STEM research and activities they can bring into their classrooms.

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math.

Wearing a dress shirt on a casual Saturday and flashing his easy smile, Albert Flores didn’t betray his signature look as mainstay weather broadcaster in San Antonio.

The weather is unpredictable, and at best the role of a meteorologist is to give an “educated guess,” he said.

The tornadoes that hit San Antonio Feb. 19 are the most recent example of the challenges of predicting the weather.

“Weather like that is so improbable. No way we could have told you when it’s going to hit,” Flores said.

He said tornadoes are hard to pick up on a radar, but the debris the winds carry help to see the trail.

He said he received a lot of grumbling from network exes about not predicting and informing the public about the possible tornadoes.

Although there was property damage reported, Flores said he felt relief no one was killed.

This area is seeing more tornadoes because “the atmosphere has warmed up,” he said.

“It’s warming up by 3 degrees, and it makes a huge difference,” he said. “The heating water is fueling the storms.”

Flores said he understands that weather is cyclical and that pollution levels impact the weather, but he said, “I’m not a big proponent of global warming.”

Weather is three-dimensional and fluid. Unlike Venus, which he describes as a “runaway green house,” Earth is the most complicated plane, he said.

“We are living in an anomaly,” Flores said.

Flores said San Antonio is at an interesting location because of the proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and the mountains of northern Mexico where “these cold fronts come in.”

Although tornadoes do occur, he said the most common weather danger is lightning.

He said more people are killed by lightning because they ignore it.

“It doesn’t have to be right over your head. Lightning travels at an angle.”

Another danger is flash floods, he said.

“You don’t have to be in super deep water to drown,” he said.

Flores described how water can buckle the knees and once a person falls, the strength of the stream makes it difficult for people to get up, he said.

There is an underestimation from the public he said of “the power of Mother Nature and how quickly it can be deadly.”

He threw in anecdotes about his day-to-day job as a meteorologist.

He recalls being asked, “‘I am planning to pour $20,000 dollars worth of cement tomorrow; it is going to rain? What do you think?’”

In attendance was Kim Keith, 19-year veteran teacher at Schertz-Cibolo Independent School District.

She wanted to get insight about the weather, which is a required subject matter for third graders.

She said science is important because “you have to know about how the world works around you and how you fit in.”

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