CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB-TV): The United States National Weather Service issued its first forecast this week in 1870. Since then, it's been expanding and going strong, now with more than 120 forecast offices nationwide. One of the most recent ones was established in Morristown, TN.
"The office opened in 1995 and is a consolidation of three smaller offices in Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Tri-cities," said George Mathews, Meteorologist-In-Charge at the Morristown office.
Hamilton county is one of 40 counties served by the office which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The team of 24 full- and part-time meteorologists use sophisticated radar, satellite, and computer model data to provide information that Tennessee Valley residents can use to plan their days.
"We do the regular forecasts. The 'partly cloudy, high of 75 degrees', that type of thing," said Mathews. The forecasts are then transmitted over weather radio and to the office's web site for public viewing.
Not all staff members stay behind the desk, however. They reach out to people of all ages to educate them about weather and severe weather safety. "We have brochures. We do school visits," explained Mathews. He went on to say that education via teleconferencing will be available in the near future, including a site in Chattanooga at the Tennessee Aquarium.
Perhaps the most important role the Morristown office plays in the daily lives of the Channel 3 audience is when severe weather is about to strike. The meteorologists use special software to issue official warnings when necessary.
"That will directly and immediately go out through the emergency alert system to the public," said Tim Troutman, Warning Coordinator Meteorologist.
It takes merely seconds to send the message after a few clicks of the mouse. Then, the Channel 3 Storm Alert Team can track the storms visually for you, our viewers.