March 2012  

   
Weather Research Center and Weather Museum –
“Making the Community Weather Wise”

Sylvan Beach Pavilion
The Weather Museum, 5401 Caroline, Houston

Weather Research Center, Inc. (WRC) is a unique organization in Harris County. In 1966, Dr. John C. Freeman, a native Houstonian and lifelong meteorologist and oceanographer, founded the Institute of Storm Research at the University of St. Thomas, and he continued as its director for 21 years.

In 1987, Dr. Freeman, along with his daughter,  Jill Freeman Hasling, founded the Institute’s successor organization, Weather Research Center. WRC was founded to educate the public about weather and weather safety.

Since its beginning, WRC and its meteorologists have served over 1.5 million people in Texas and throughout the world offering research, forecasting and educational services. WRC’s activities are focused first on the

education of newly graduated meteorologists in corporate, global marine and tropical weather forecasting; second, on outreach and community education programs for school children and adults; and finally, weather research. WRC hosts the nation’s only conference dedicated to bringing together a diverse group of people to discuss flooding issues that impact the globe. The Second National Flood Workshop was held recently and brought engineers, scientists and meteorologists together to discuss the impacts of the flooding in the northeast United States, Nashville and along the Mississippi River.

Crews work on the duck pond near the wildlife refuge in Bear Creek Pioneers Park in Precinct Three.
Weather Research Center provides worldwide
marine and tropical weather forecasts as
well as a range of research specialties.

The non-profit Weather Research Center manages a worldwide forecasting operation and provides groundbreaking research to scientists around the globe.  Its meteorologists work on severe weather advisories, marine forecasts, long-range outlooks, environmental studies and forensic meteorology services.  Funds for the annual budget come from grants and fees for global weather forecasting, research, education programs, membership, admission fees to WRC’s Weather Museum and charitable donations.  

The Weather Museum

WRC opened The John C. Freeman Weather Museum in Houston’s Museum District on April 22, 2006. The

Ribbon cutting marking completion of the improvements and railroad overpass on Will Clayton Parkway just west of HWY 59 in Humble
KHOU11 News Chief Meteorologist
Gene Norman poses with Alamo. Credit:
Gene Norman / 11 News

museum provides hands-on meteorological science education to the Harris County area as well as many out-of-town visitors.   Attendance has exceeded 40,000 visitors in the six years since its beginning.   Funding for The Weather Museum comes in part from the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance

WRC and The Weather Museum host a variety of events throughout the year.  On Groundhog Day, a Texas Longhorn looks for his shadow to forecast the coming of spring.  Texas, of course, is too big for a mere groundhog to predict its weather.  The day is concluded with The Weather Museum’s annual Groundhog Day Gala and Weather Hero Awards.

Every April, The Weather Museum celebrates Earth Month and its own birthday.  (The Weather Museum is six years old this year.)  Visitors to the museum in April will learn about simple things each of us can do to help protect our planet.

In June, meteorologists at the museum team up with the National Weather Service, CenterPoint Energy, City of Houston and Harris County for the National Weather Service Hurricane Workshop.  This one-day event is a great way to get ready for hurricane season.  Children can visit the Kids Zone and learn all about the weather and hurricane preparedness. 

A trip to the museum

There are nine permanent exhibits in the museum.  One favorite is a simulated weather broadcasting studio where visitors can make a weather forecast just like the pros and, for a fee, take home the DVD to show family and friends.  

Many amenities - such as parks, trails, ponds at stormwater detention basins, and thousands of new trees - are planned for all of Project Brays.  Photo courtesy of HCFD
This 3-D digital globe is used to view and explore
images including satellite loops of
past hurricane seasons, plate tectonics,
satellite tracking, the solar system, and much more.

An interactive climate room features tropical, arid and temperate climate terrariums, and you’ll learn about the global cycles of El Niño and La Niña. 

You can watch experiments performed by meteorologists and museum staff and view satellite and radar images of hurricanes that have affected the Gulf Coast, including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  How much do you know about weather?  Try your luck at challenging weather trivia.

Learn how tornadoes form, how they are rated on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, and how to stay safe.  The newest exhibit, designed and built by engineers and meteorologists at the National Weather Service Office in Corpus Christi, is the Tornado Chamber, where you can witness a tornado created in water vapor and touch it while learning how a vortex forms.

Ribbon cutting marking completion of the improvements and railroad overpass on Will Clayton Parkway just west of HWY 59 in Humble Understand and learn about the history of
meteorology by seeing how weather
forecasting techniques and equipment have
changed throughout the years.

As well as housing the permanent exhibits, the museum offers a host of interactive learning programs including three-day weather camps; Boy/Girl Scout badge classes aimed at learning the basics of weather, severe weather, and weather safety; teacher workshops; weather labs designed to be personalized to any age or group or specific topic; weather safety classes; and birthday parties.  

There are weekend programs that include guest speakers, an afternoon at the (weather) movies, and family day featuring interactive weather experiments.  These events are available throughout the year.  For more information call 713-529-3076 or visit www.weathermuseum.org.  

Hours and Admission

The Weather Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  (The museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.)

Self-guided tours are free on Thursdays from noon to 4 p.m.  Guided tours must be arranged in advance and are not available on Thursdays.  For a schedule of fees, please click here.

Memberships to The Weather Museum are available and start at $25.  Benefits and discounts vary depending on level of membership, but include year-round free admission, tickets to special events and exhibit openings, tours and discounts on merchandise.

Special Offer - The John C. Feeman Weather Museum

Future Plans

In order to continue to do its part to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers through tours

and educational programs, The Weather Museum needs to expand.  Many regional schools would like to bring 100-125 students at a time to the museum, which exceeds current capacity.  To meet this need, WRC must remodel the current museum facility as well as build an annex behind it.  Purchasing adjacent property will also be required to complete the project and provide adequate parking space.  Weather Research Center’s goal is to raise $1.5 million.  Click here to view sponsorship opportunities. 

Crews work on the duck pond near the wildlife refuge in Bear Creek Pioneers Park in Precinct Three.
Proposed Weather Museum Education Center - 2,100 sq. ft.
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