Skip to contentSkip to navigation

Info 211

How Do I...


2018 Severe Weather Symposium

Welcome to the 2018 Douglas County, Kansas Severe Weather Symposium page. This is an annual event held each Spring.

Welcome to the 2018 Douglas County, Kansas Severe Weather Symposium page. This page will contain basic information and links to past events.

Basic Information

Saturday, March 3rd at the DoubleTree Lawrence, 200 McDonald Dr, Lawrence, KS.

The 18th 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 3rd from 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the DoubleTree Lawrence.

Additional registrations will be taken at the door on Saturday morning! 

Find Us On Social Media

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

Tentative Schedule

  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.: Jeremy Bower, JRBStorm Photography: Photographing the Atmosphere and Beyond

  9:30 a.m. – 10:25 a.m.: Dr. Ariel Cohen, NWS Topeka: SSCRAM! The Statistical Severe Convective Risk Assessment Model 

 10:35 a.m. – 11:25 a.m.: Jenni Laflin, NWS Kansas City/Pleasant Hill: The March 6, 2017 Tornado Outbreak

 11:25 a.m. – 12:20 p.m.:  Lunch

 12:20 p.m. – 1:10 p.m.: Will Akin, Clay County Emergency Management: The Next Think I Knew...

  1:20 p.m. - 2:10 p.m.: Joe Lauria, Fox 4: Digging Through the Web for Information

  2:20 p.m. - 3:10 p.m.: Makenzie Krocak, Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS): A Sub-Daily Tornado Climatology and its Implications for Forecasting

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


Jenni Laflin, National Weather Service Kansas City/Pleasant Hill, MO 

The March 6, 2017 Tornado Outbreak

Jenni has been a meteorologist with the National Weather Service for nearly 12 years. She obtained her B.S. in Meteorology & Climatology and her M.S. in Atmospheric Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and also holds a B.S. in Information Technology. Prior to her arrival in Kansas City in 2012, she worked in the forecast offices in Omaha, NE and Sioux Falls, SD. Jenni's research areas include hail forecasting, the use of satellite meteorology in severe weather forecasting, and communication.



Makenzie Krocak, Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS) 

A Sub-Daily Tornado Climatology and its Implications for Forecasting

Kenzie is currently a doctoral student at the in the University of Oklahoma’s School of Meteorology. Originally from the Twin Cities, MN, she grew up experiencing nearly every type of hazardous weather.
She received her bachelor’s degree in meteorology from Iowa State University and then moved to Norman to complete her master’s degree from OU. Her work loosely focuses on forecasting severe weather on different temporal and spatial scales. She has spent the last two years participating in the Spring Forecasting Experiments Hazardous Weather Testbed in Norman, where she tests different forecasting products and receives feedback from both forecasters and emergency managers. She is also very interested in the communication of these events, working with national survey data to ensure residents receive, comprehend, and respond to severe weather products appropriately. 


Jeremy Bower - Severe Weather Symposium Speaker 2018Jeremy Bower, JRBStorm Photography

Photographing the Atmosphere and Beyond

Jeremy Bower is a native of New Philadelphia, Ohio. Jeremy attended Ohio State University and graduated in 2005 with a B.S. in Atmospheric Science. During his undergraduate career, he worked for Storm Chasing Adventure Tours as a driver and forecaster. During a particularly memorable storm chase on June 24, 2003, Jeremy captured tornadoes on video which would later be used in a National Geographic program entitled “Inside the Tornado”. After relocation to Lincoln, Nebraska, Jeremy continued to study the weather and became a lead forecaster for the University of Nebraska’s Vortex Intercept Team from 2006 to 2009. Jeremy also interned as a meteorologist and provided severe weather briefings for the Lancaster County (NE) Emergency Management Agency.

In January 2012, Jeremy and his wife, Chantelli Fulst (also an OSU meteorology graduate), created JRBStorm Photography. This endeavor enabled Jeremy and Chantelli to create a platform to share their love of photography and weather. The photography and art they create while living on the Plains has been used by The Weather Channel, Emergency Management, and the National Weather Service for educational purposes. Their enthusiasm to integrate science and art has enabled them to participate in a wide range of outreach events including presentations at Ohio State University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Ohio University. 

Joe Lauria, Fox 4Joe Lauria, Fox 4

Digging Through the Web for Information

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.

Dr. Ariel Cohen, National Weather Service Topeka 

SSCRAM!  The Statistical Severe Convective Risk Assessment Model

Dr. Ariel Cohen is the new Science and Operations Officer at the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Topeka, Kansas, where he started in September 2017.  He previously served as a Mesoscale Assistant/Fire Weather Forecaster since January 2011 at the Storm Prediction Center (SPC).  At SPC, he was responsible for preparing Mesoscale Discussions, Convective Outlooks, and Fire Weather Outlooks.  Some of his more memorable shifts include April 28, 2014 for his first initiation of a High Risk (across Mississippi and Alabama), April 14, 2012 for mesoscale analysis responsibilities during the Central Plains tornado outbreak, and the midnight shift leading up to the April 27, 2011 Southeast U.S. tornado outbreak.  In addition to his routine forecast responsibilities, Ariel also became an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology following the completion of his Ph.D. at OU.  Before becoming a forecaster at the SPC, he worked as a forecaster at the WFOs in Great Falls MT and Jackson MS, and also at the National Hurricane Center where he also performed GFE developmental work for NHC and the Ocean Prediction Center.  Previously, he received his M.S. in Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma in 2008 and his B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences from Ohio State University in 2006 – having been raised on the north side of Columbus OH in the suburb of Worthington.

Through his career, Ariel has performed research and published on a broad range of topics: mesoscale convective system severity and structure, derechos, violent tornado environments, the Statistical Severe Convective Risk Assessment Model (SSCRAM), the planetary boundary layer and its parameterization in numerical weather prediction, Southeast United States cold season severe weather environments and related modeling, along with other topics.  His dissertation is entitled “Southeast U.S. Cold Season Severe Thunderstorm Environments and Their Depictions Using Multiple Planetary Boundary Layer Parameterization Schemes.”  Ariel has also mentored many students through various research programs, including the Research Experiences for Undergraduates and NOAA Hollings programs.

During spring semesters from 2015 to 2017, Ariel co-instructed a graduate-level course at the University of Oklahoma that he developed, entitled “Applications of Meteorological Theory to Severe-Thunderstorm Forecasting.”  This class offers OU students an opportunity to investigate the linkages between meteorological theory and forecasting and experience hands-on severe weather forecasting applications (with class material now publicly available for the “Severe Thunderstorm Forecasting Video Lecture Series” at  This teaching opportunity has reinforced his aspiration to further integrate teaching and training into his career.  It has been a dream of Ariel’s since middle and high school to become a Science and Operations Officer in the NWS, and he is very happy to be the SOO at NWS Topeka!

Will Akin, Clay County Emergency Management

The Next Thing I Knew...

Captain Will Akin is the Emergency Preparedness Division Commander at the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and serves as the Emergency Manager for Clay County. As Division Commander, Will oversees 9-1-1 Communications, Public Information, and Emergency Management.

Will has over 23 years of combined experience in law enforcement and military service. While enlisted in the U.S. Army he served as a Parachute Rigger and ending his military service as a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter Pilot. For the last 15 years, Will has worked in many areas of law enforcement from patrol to special projects and even spending three years in Afghanistan as a Police Advisor.

Will has been immersed in emergency management for the last five years, served as a Public Information Officer on the Southwest Missouri Incident Team, is a Missouri Certified Emergency Manager II (MOCEM II), and serves as the Chairperson on the Metropolitan Emergency Managers Committee (MEMC) as well as Vice-Chair of the Area Maritime Security Committee (AMSC).

After dropping out of high school and later earning his G.E.D., Will went on to earn an A.S. in Behavioral Science, a B.S. in Criminal Justice, an M.B.A. in Management, serves as an Adjunct Professor at MidAmerica Nazarene University, and is currently a student at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois working on his Doctor of Education degree in Ethical Leadership.

Panel Discussion Participants and Special Guests

Vanessa Alonso, KQ2 St. Joe

Online registration has Closed, but additional registrations will be taken at the door on Saturday morning.

When and Where


  • $20 per person. 

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










Blue Valley Public Safety

Civil Air Patrol

Happy Shirt Printing

JRBStorm Photography

Midland Radio

Skyscape Art

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: