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Science on a Sphere in Norman gives a worldwide perspective on weather

The National Weather Festival is Nov. 3 at the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma, which features the Science on a Sphere exhibit.
by Bryan Painter Modified: October 19, 2012 at 9:59 pm •  Published: October 21, 2012

At times, Thompson is watching for a specific weather system.

“Not only is it interesting to watch convective waves come off Africa and turn into U.S.-bound hurricanes,” Thompson said, “but I have also read in the news about a super typhoon, and then gone to work and looked for it on the sphere.”

Rick Smith, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service, Norman Forecast Office, is used to looking at radar images, but continues to be amazed at the worldwide weather perspective on the sphere.

“Even though I walk by it every day, I still find myself stopping and watching it,” Smith said. “It's such a cool way to visualize how the weather moves around the planet.”

David L. Andra, meteorologist in charge in the Norman Forecast Office, also said Science on a Sphere is certainly a focal point within the Weather Center.

“Since our office focuses on the local area, it's interesting to step back and see what happened with a storm system as it left Oklahoma on its way to the east coast and points beyond,” Andra said.

Rotating billboard

Science on a Sphere can be found at museums and different locations not only throughout the United States but in Brazil, Denmark, France and at other sites internationally, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Thompson has numerous data sets for the sphere and she also has many images she created. At times the sphere is used as a rotating billboard to make building announcements. She has even put engagement photos on the sphere when couples use the atrium for wedding receptions.

“There are many interesting things to see at the NWC,” Thompson said, “but many enjoy the sphere.

“I have heard people numerous times comment that they wish they had their own sphere.”

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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