Meteorology student extends learning at White Squirrel Weather and Kentucky Mesonet
- Shawna Blagojevic
- Tuesday, February 4th, 2020
Jennifer Van Antwerp, a senior majoring in meteorology and earning a certificate in geographic information system (GIS) from Marietta, Georgia, said Western Kentucky University was the first and only college she visited.
“I knew as soon as I stepped foot on campus that WKU was where I was meant to be,” Van Antwerp said. She joined White Squirrel Weather her junior year and works with a lead forecaster and a group of fellow students to make weather predictions for university events.
Van Antwerp’s work at White Squirrel Weather provides intelligence to inform decisions about campus events. For example, last year, Van Antwerp worked at the Emergency Operations Command post. While monitoring the weather during a football game, she noticed potential for high winds. They notified the appropriate officials who then anchored down objects at the stadium and secured any objects posing a threat just before the high winds arrived.
At the Kentucky Mesonet, Van Antwerp writes and debugs programs that automate the process of collecting data from websites and map it. Those maps are used in a webinar to communicate how much rain has fallen across the state, the impacts that storms have had on the state, and how temperatures compare to the average. The webinar participants, which are often government officials, utilize the information to help with many areas, including helping farmers make plans for their crops.
Van Antwerp has also taken advantage of other opportunities WKU has to offer, such as joining the WKU Symphony her freshman year as a violinist.
“Having the symphony there as something that I was familiar with helped ease my nerves a bit which helped my adjustment to living away from everything that I knew,” Van Antwerp said.
Upon graduation Van Antwerp plans to begin a job in geointelligence at a firm in Alabama and eventually begin research with NASA.
White Squirrel Weather is an applied research, professional service-learning initiative that leverages expertise within the WKU Meteorology Program to provide real-time hyperlocal weather observations and forecasts for the WKU campus community. For more information, visit wkuweather.com.
As the Commonwealth’s official source for weather and climate data, the Kentucky Mesonet at WKU provides real-time information from a statewide network of 66 stations in 65 counties. The Mesonet, which is housed at the Kentucky Climate Center at WKU, is the only network of its kind in the Commonwealth. For more information, visit kymesonet.org.