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July 1997

Walt Roberts Weather Trail is open for business

A new chapter was added to the legacy of NCAR founder Walter Orr Roberts with the opening of a weather-oriented interpretive trail in his name. The trail behind the Mesa Lab, upgraded in 1989 by Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, has been further enhanced this summer by the addition of 11 signs explaining Front Range weather and climate phenomena whose aspects or impacts are visible from the mesa.

Janet Roberts opens the trail as Jenny Roberts-Nobles and Chuck Nobles look on. (All photos by Carlye Calvin.)

North America's first weather trail was feted on 9 July in a dedication ceremony attended by the UCAR Board of Trustees (in town for their quarterly meeting), along with Janet Roberts and the Roberts's daughter and son-in-law. After cutting the ribbon to open the trail, Janet reminded the crowd of a classic meteorological ditty: "Whether it's cold or whether it's hot, we'll always have weather, whether or not."

Taking in the trail are Wendy Abshire and Chuck Wade (left), Nancy Norris (right), and two unidentified visitors (center).

The ceremony moved to the cafeteria to recognize two other events: the second summer of the Significant Opportunities in the Atmospheric and Related Sciences (SOARS) program and the impending retirement of UCAR vice president for finance and administration Bill Rawson. (See next month's Staff Notes Monthly for a report on Bill's transition and the hiring of two new vice presidents.)

On Friday, 11 July, around 200 citizens and staff flocked to the mesa for the trail's grand opening. Several NCAR and UOP scientists were deployed along the trail to answer questions. They included Wendy Abshire and Rich Cianflone (COMET); Siri Flocke, Alex Guenther, and Peter Harley (ACD); Janice Coen and Vanda Grubisic (MMM); and Marcia Politovich (RAP). Also taking questions were Milli Butterworth and Zhenya Gallon (UCAR Communications).

Bill Rawson, honored by the UCAR Board of Trustees on 9 July.

The trail was inspired by a similar one installed near Gstaad, Switzerland, by the Swiss Meteorological Institute. That and another Swiss trail appear to be the only other interpretive trails in the world dedicated to weather and climate. The NCAR trail was overseen by Nita Razo and Linda Carbone (NCAR Visual Communications) with input from the Exhibits Committee. Bob Henson (UCAR Communications) wrote the text; Liesel Brunson (NCAR Imaging and Design Center) designed the illustrations. Primary funding for sign production and installation came from Friends of UCAR, the annual membership program created to support science education activities.

After initial machining work by John Vanderpol (ACD) and John Harkness (FSS), the signs were constructed and assembled by Ken Harris, José Rivas, Bart Woodiel, and Jim Ellis (Design and Fabrication Services), with final assembly by Pat Craig (FSS). Rich Johnson and Beau Charbonneau (FSS) installed the signs on the mesa. The installation was organized by John Pereira and David Soule (FSS).

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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu