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2017 Severe Weather Symposium

Welcome to the 2017 Douglas County, Kansas Severe Weather Symposium page. This is an annual event held each Spring.

Welcome to the 2017 Douglas County, Kansas Severe Weather Symposium page. This page will contain basic information and links to past events.

Basic Information

Saturday, March 4th at the DoubleTree Lawrence, 200 McDonald Dr, Lawrence, KS.

The 17th Annual Severe Weather Symposium is a day of training designed to provide instruction in advanced storm development, spotter safety, and the importance of spotter reports. The presentations will include incredible storm videos, experts in the field from the public and private sectors, and will conclude with a Panel discussion with the presenters, National Weather Service meteorologists, and local television meteorologists.

Mark your calendar and make plans to join meteorologists, emergency managers, amateur radio operators, storm spotters and weather enthusiasts on March 4th from 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the DoubleTree Lawrence.

Find Us On Social Media

Information on the schedule, speaker bios, and panel discussion participants will be coming soon.


  7:30 a.m.: Registration Begins (Refreshments will be available)

  8:15 a.m.: Welcome and Announcements

  8:30 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.:

  9:30 a.m. – 10:25 a.m.:

 10:35 a.m. – 11:25 a.m.:

 11:25 a.m. – 12:20 p.m.:  Lunch

 12:20 p.m. – 1:10 p.m.:

  1:20 p.m. - 2:10 p.m.:

  2:20 p.m. - 3:10 p.m.:

  3:15 p.m.: Panel Discussion (Includes our speakers and local Integrated Warning Team Members)


Gabe Garfield, CIMMS

Topic: 24 May 2016 Dodge City, KS tornado outbreak.

Gabe is the National Weather Service Liaison to the Hazardous Weather Testbed.  His work focuses on improving tornado warnings through the development of new weather technology.

Originally from Stillwater, Oklahoma, his interest in weather began on 15 May 1990 when an F3 tornado struck his hometown.  After the tornado, he wrote a local television weatherman to see if he would bring his traveling weather show to town.  The weatherman, Gary England, wrote back with regrets that he wouldn't be in Stillwater that year.  But he sent a signed copy of his tornado book to Gabe, which Gabe read dozens of time in his youth.  This began a life-long passion for tornadoes, which led to the pursuit and completion of bachelor’s and master’s of science degrees in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma.  During his free time as a student, Gabe developed his skills for forecasting and chasing severe storms.  He has witnessed dozens of tornadoes, including EF5 tornadoes at El Reno, Oklahoma in 2011 and Moore, Oklahoma in 2013. Gabe has been involved with several research projects including VORTEX-2.


Kevin Skow, NWS Topeka, KS

Storm Surveying in the 21st Century: New Tools, Technology, and Findings

Kevin grew up just north of Minneapolis, MN and graduated with a B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of North Dakota in 2009. His career with the National Weather Service began in Anchorage, Alaska in late 2009 before moving to Des Moines, Iowa in early 2011 and transferring to the Topeka, Kansas office in late 2016. Kevin's primary interests revolve around severe weather forecasting and warnings and storm surveying, in particular exploring new ways to improve the warning and surveying process. He has presented on these topics at multiple local, regional, and national conferences and will soon have a paper published in the AMS Weather and Forecasting journal on the subject.


Joe Lauria, Fox 4

A New Look at Severe Thunderstorm Warnings

Joe Lauria is the weekend news meteorologist for FOX 4. Joe believes that the weather reports are important because weather is the one thing that affects everyone.

He joined the station in January 1995, but weather has been an important part of his life since childhood. Growing up in New York, Joe remembers being fascinated by clouds and snowstorms at the age of 10. Winter remains his favorite weather season because of those hard-to-forecast snowstorms.

This award-winning meteorologist was chief meteorologist at KOSA-TV in Midland, Texas for six years. It was there that the Associated Press voted him the best weathercaster of the year for the state of Texas. He also has been chief meteorologist at WAYK-TV in Orlando, Florida and KFKF-FM in Kansas City and WCEE-TV in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. Over the years he’s done local radio forecasts for KMBZ-AM and WHB-AM.

Besides his FOX 4 weather forecasts, Joe gives dozens of speeches and severe weather seminars for the young and old each year. Talking to adults…he loves speaking about how TV stations now cover bad weather…it certainly has changed a lot over the last 5-10 years or so. He was named president of the KC Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) for both 2001-02 and 2002- 03, and again in 2014 and has been Vice President from 2008-2013… and also is a member of the National Weather Association (NWA). Both organizations have given him their Seal of Approval for excellence in weather broadcasting. As a way of giving back to the weather community, he used to judge TV candidates nationwide in order for them to obtain this prestigious certification. He also has been awarded the highest honor possible for a TV meteorologist when he obtained the Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM) designation from the AMS, which fewer than 650 people have.

In 1984, Joe graduated from St. Louis University with a bachelor’s degree in meteorology. Joe considers one of his career highlights to be helping our viewers get through the tornado outbreaks that have affected the area for the past years including the May 4, 2003 KC Tornado Outbreak.

When he is not working, Joe enjoys traveling, sports, and especially playing golf…he even has a hole-in-one. As a matter of fact…during the golf season as a way of helping out the golf community and local charities as well…he actively promotes 100’s of different golf fundraisers around the area both on the air and through Joe’s Golf Tournaments on A native of New Rochelle, New York, Joe currently resides in Olathe, Kansas with his wife Jaye Lynn and their 3 cats. His favorite things about the city are the great Italian restaurants and of course the golf courses.


Tim Marshall, Engineer/Meteorologist with Haag Engineering Company

Tornadoes in the 2016 TWIRL Project

Tim Marshall is a meteorologist and civil engineer who makes his living surveying and assessing damage in the wake of tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and hailstorms. Tim graduated Northern Illinois University in 1978 majoring in meteorology, earned a master’s degree in Atmospheric Science from Texas Tech University in 1980, and a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from Texas Tech University in 1983.  Tim is a registered professional engineer in Texas and has worked with Haag Engineering Company, a failure and damage consulting firm based in Dallas, since 1983.  

Tim has chased hundreds of tornadoes and witnessed dozens of hurricanes.  He has been part of several government-sponsored scientific projects including VORTEX 2, ROTATE and TWIRL where his task has been to deploy instrumented pods in the paths of tornadoes.  Tim has conducted hundreds of damage surveys throughout the U.S. in the wake of natural disasters, has written numerous publications on building damage, and has appeared on dozens of radio and television programs.  He is the principle trainer in how to conduct damage surveys for the National Weather Service (NWS) since the 1990s, and serves on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Quick Response Team.  Tim is currently chair of an American Society of Civil Engineers sub-committee whose task is to write a standard on how to use the Enhanced Fujita Scale to rate damage to structures. 


Bryan Baerg, NWS Topeka, KS

Event Review of the 25 May 2016 Long-Lived, Violent Tornado near Chapman, Kansas

Bryan Baerg is a Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Topeka, KS. He grew up in the central Kansas town of McPherson. His love for weather grew throughout his childhood as he became fascinated with the extreme severe weather in the central plains. Bryan’s love for weather turned into a career path as he attended and graduated from The University of Kansas in December of 2015, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Atmospheric Science. His National Weather Service employment began in the spring of 2015 when he was hired as a Pathways Student Intern (formerly known as the SCEP program) with the forecast office in Topeka, Kansas. Upon graduation, Bryan was converted to his current position as a Meteorologist Intern.

Panel Discussion Participants and Special Guests

Lindsey Anderson, KSHB

Bryan Busby, KMBC

Gerard Jebaily, KSHB

Jeff Johnson, NWS Topeka

Chad Omitt, NWS Topeka

Chris Suchan, KCTV5

When and Where


  • $15 fee per person
  • Payments can be submitted via
    • Mailed check, money order or cash. Check or money order should be made payable to "Douglas County Emergency Management".
      • Mail To: Douglas County Emergency Management
      • C/O Jillian Rodrigue
      • 111 East 11th St., Unit 200
      • Lawrence, KS 66044
    • Credit card payments will be taken over the phone. There is a 2.35% fee per transaction.

Douglas County Emergency Management would like to give a special thanks to:










A Photo Photography

Blue Valley Public Safety

Happy Shirt Printing

Become a Sponsor or Vendor

For more information on becoming a Sponsor or a Vendor, please contact Jillian Rodrigue.

You can contact us at:

  • Douglas County Kansas Emergency Management Department
  • 111 E. 11th Street, 2nd level (Unit 200), Lawrence, Kansas 66044
  • Phone: (785) 832-5259
  • Fax: 785-832-5101
  • Email: