By Angela Mennecke
Lake Park High School in Roselle is the first high school in Community College District 502 to pilot College of DuPage’s Meteorology program’s Campus Weather® in an effort to make accurate, reliable weather information available to staff, families and community members.
The free service, provided by the COD Meteorology program, includes up-to-date weather conditions, seven-day forecast information and acts as a resource for school safety protocols in the event of inclement weather. Campus Weather® includes a weather widget that can be easily embedded to a school's website providing current weather conditions and an abbreviated forecast. The widget is then pointed to a webpage tailored specifically for the school's precise location within DuPage County.
The idea to create customized weather pages for local high schools came to fruition after COD Meteorology Professor Paul Sirvatka developed a weather protocol plan for District 211 in Schaumburg a few years ago. He saw first-hand the issues of not having weather protocol plans in place or a one-stop-shop for weather information.
“The experience with District 211 got me thinking about how our weather data would be useful to area high schools,” he said. “The whole purpose of this is that we wanted a way to one, prepare the community for extreme weather, but two, we wanted to advertise our world-class meteorology program. During the last hurricane, we had 10 million hits on our page a day. We want to make our presence known locally.”
Sirvatka has spent more than 25 years developing the College's Meteorology program into one of the top program’s in the country with even the U.S. Navy relying on the department’s NEXLAB weather website. NEXLAB is used by almost every university meteorology program in the nation.
“NEXLAB compounds the generation of images, primarily for models, satellite and radar,” he said. “We will walk into National Weather Service offices, and they will have displays on the wall using our website.”
Sherri Anderson, Lake Park High School Director of Communications, said that with the implementation of COD’s Campus Weather® service, families will be better informed of real-time and anticipated weather.
“Each time the administration meets to talk about inclement weather coming, there is always much discussion about which weather application should be utilized,” she said. “There is so much information available and it can be conflicting. We are confident about COD’s weather data because it’s drawing from the National Weather Service and is customized to our specific location. The COD weather service allows us to have a one-stop-shop for weather access.”
Anderson says she was relieved that this opportunity didn’t involve adding costly equipment to the exterior of the two campuses in Lake Park High School District 108, which serves nearly 2,600 students.
“I was pleased to learn this weather service already existed through the College and everything is free of charge,” she said. “I hope that with the utilization of this service, our high school students and their families explore more of COD and their diverse program offerings. We love that this supports our local community college.”
With the success of Lake Park High School’s customized weather page, Sirvatka is working with other area high schools to get their webpages up and running, including Community High School District 99 in Downers Grove.
“If we can get the word out, parents can use this as their number one resource for weather information,” he said. “Right now everyone looks at their cell phone and it has faulty information from multiple sources. This service is something that is actually pertinent to that specific high school.”
For questions or more information, contact Sirvatka at (630) 942-2118 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured: Matt Piechota, College of DuPage Meteorology Lab Assistant and Staff Forecaster in the College's forecasting lab walking his staff through updates to the Campus Weather webpage. (Press Photography Network/ Special to College of DuPage)