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Published: March 24th 2008
Obfuscator writes: After a night dealing with unpleasant teenagers, we were happy to get rolling back toward Norman. We met R at the National Weather Center, where she works, so that we could fit in an early tour. The building in which the NWC resides was only completed in 2006, so it's still shiny and new. The building is only about five stories tall, but it looks about twice that, and it in fact is. While it only has five usable stories, it has floors in between each of the actual floors, dedicated entirely to the building's computer, and I suppose power, systems. It has a huge amount of windows, since we're told it was designed to maximize natural light.
There's a huge, open atrium, with lots of comfy looking chairs and so forth for people to sit and work at in the middle of the building. Nearby, you can see the Dorothy probe from Twister, as well as the TOTO probe that inspired it. Going out through a receiving room, we got to see the large radar trucks that the chasers with the NWC use. If you can imagine a flatbed truck with a huge radar dish and generator
affixed to the back, well, that's pretty much what they are.
Up on the top floor, we saw the observation deck, where all the meteorologists like to go during storms, since it has great panoramic views in almost every direction, but especially of the Southwest, where all the neat weather seems to come from. Finally, we saw the storm prediction center, where the National Weather Service issues the severe weather watches for the whole country. This center is manned 24 hours a day, and though their maps are created by computer, they also still generate maps by hand as sort of an error checker and backup. In short, their facilities are amazing, and we learned a heck of a lot about the process by which severe weather is detected and information disseminated to the public.
After seeing the NWC, R and D took us south and east a ways, to a Nature Preserve that R is a member of. We set out on a 6+ mile hike, and promptly took the wrong turn. This had several consequences. First, it made what should have been an easy creek crossing, a very difficult creek crossing. Second, it led us to
do quite a bit more off-trailing than we would have needed to otherwise do. This might have been unpleasant enough, but was made worse since D was wearing shorts, and it turns out that Oklahoma is made up primarily of thorns. Onaxthiel thought that New Mexico was stabby. Though that's probably true, I submit that Oklahoma is perhaps pointier. Though each point is less stabby, there seem to be many more of them.
After much fighting through thorny brush, we did eventually get back on the correct trail. We came to a neat cave with springs, and several other springs throughout the preserve. We also saw some deer, and coyote tracks, but we didn't see much other wildlife, though we were told there was a bobcat and kittens around somewhere. It was a warm and sunny afternoon though, so it was pretty nice for hiking, even though the trails were a bit mucky at points. Two jet fighters buzzed us when we were in the far corner of the park, this being in the flight zone of an Air Force training area.
We headed back to Norman, and got some Asian food, and went back to R's to
Weather tracking center
Kinda reminds Onaxthiel of Iraq...
eat it, and to watch some tornado footage. Due to the presence of R's cats, Onaxthiel took a good load of benadryl and spaced out for the night. He remembers the night through a kind of fog. Eventually, we went back to our campground at Thunderbird Lake for sleep.
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