Chris Vickers visits Fayette kids 2009.05.13

Written by David Green.


Chris Vickers of Channel 11 has found success as a television meteorologist, but he could probably succeed in an elementary school classroom just as well.vickers.pointing.jpg

He has an engaging style that draws the interest of children, and he has the patience to clearly explain a phenomena and then field a question from a little one asking for an explanation of everything he just covered.

No problem. He can review it one more time.

Chris visited Fayette’s after-school library program Thursday and faced a crowd of 50 youngsters to talk about—what else but weather.

“I brought a tornado with me,” he said, holding up a pair of soft drink bottles taped together mouth to mouth and partially filled with water.

“Turn it upside down!” an audience member suggested.

Nothing happened.

“”Shake it!” said another.

No action.

“Spin it!”

Then the tornado appeared inside the bottle.

Chris told the youngsters that wind inside a tornado can reach 300 mph.

He asked for guesses about how many thunderstorms occur every year. He heard a low guess of two and a high of 10 hundred, but said there are actually about 1,200 thunderstorms in the U.S. each year.

After a few false guesses, someone suggested that lightning is formed by static electricity when rain drops and ice rub together. When the charge becomes too big, a lightning streak shoots across the sky.

Chris asked about the temperature of lightning and was told that it’s five times hotter than the sun.

“That’s exactly right,” he said, impressed with the students’ knowledge—up to 50,000 degrees.

“Has anyone heard that lightning can’t strike in the same place twice?” he asked.

About two-thirds of the audience agreed with that statement, but Chris pointed out that the Empire State Building is struck about 100 times a year.

Chris reviewed the tools that weathermen use and asked the children how a meteorologist can predict the weather.

“You look to Indiana and see what’s going on there,” someone suggested.

“We do,” Chris said, “but who can look out the window and see Indiana?”

Satellites are also used in predicting,  he said, along with radar.

“Are you ever wrong about what the weather is going to be?” he was asked.

“What do you think?” Chris answered. “It’s predicting the future. It’s tough because it hasn’t happened yet. A lot of the time predictions are wrong. We have to learn from our mistakes and figure out what we did wrong.”

Chris said he became interested in the weather when he was a child.

“Since I was your age and probably younger, I always loved the weather.”

He studied meteorology at Ohio University and told the students that it required a lot of math and science courses.

“I enjoy predicting the weather. I love it. I think it would be the coolest thing to see a tornado.”

That prompted a question from a younger member of the group: “What’s a tornado?”

He already heard the question “What’s weather?” and “What’s wind?” and “What makes a thunderstorm?”

“Can you tell us what’s going on right now?” he was asked.

“The storms have gone through and we’ll probably see some sun this afternoon,” Chris said.

A perfect prediction.

Walking out the door of the library, the sun was breaking through the clouds.

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