In the wake of a destructive end to 2015, with floods, tornados and droughts across the country, Breckenridge is hosting an Extreme Weather Town Hall as part of the annual Glen Gerberg Weather and Climate Summit.
Wednesday’s panel discussion will be moderated by the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore and will be open to the public at the DoubleTree Hotel on a first-come, first-served basis.
“We added this public event because we wanted locals or visitors to get exposure to the people who are coming to present to meteorologists,” Breckenridge Ski Resort public relations manager Kristen Petitt Stewart said. “It’s an opportunity to get close and ask climatologists questions.”
Some points of discussion include the reasoning behind weather extremes, prevention and ways to make communities more resilient.
“It’s about understanding how extreme weather may impact our individual lives, whether we live here or in Dallas,” Petitt Stewart said. “(Cantore) is passionate about understanding how extreme weather and climate might impact the lives of his viewers and getting that out front.”
The panel will bring weather experts from across the country, including three from Colorado. Phil Klotzbach — a research scientist at Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science who studies tropical cyclones — plans to share the history of hurricanes, what’s happened this last year and predictions for 2016.
“There’s the fact that we have a hurricane in January,” he said. “You have to be ready to change on the fly when it comes to hurricanes.”
With an El Nino winter, the Atlantic has been relatively quiet, but that might change in the future. Storms in the west Pacific, on the other hand, can carry into northern latitudes, changing weather patterns as far inland as Colorado.
“If you’re in the ski business, you kind of become a weather geek by default,” he laughed.
TAKING THE CONVERSATION TO SUMMIT
While the Climate Summit has been going on for 30 years, this is just Breckenridge’s fifth year hosting. Attendees spend the morning in classes with climate experts and spend the afternoon on the slopes throughout the week.
The added education can be used by broadcasters toward their American Meteorological Society certification, while the location showcases Breckenridge in the midst of the ski season.
“It helps these guys become better forecasters, and have better understanding of what’s going on in their home markets,” Petitt Stewart said. “Hosting this conference has turned me into a bigger weather geek — (there’re) a lot of us.”
Rachel Zerowin, public relations director for the Breckenridge Resort Chamber, said the town and the resort have worked together to host the weeklong summit.
“One of the things we’re so excited about is it allows the opportunity for meteorologists to do live shots,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to showcase this to the community and host this great event the ski resort has brought to Breckenridge.”
While the full, weeklong summit is not open to the public, it can be watched live athttp://www.stormcenter.com/wxcsummit/. The Extreme Weather Town Hall will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 20 from 6-7 p.m. in the Columbine room at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Breckenridge.
Seating is limited, so make plans to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the event. Free parking is available in the Beaver Run Lot.