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Skilling to host weather seminar at Fermilab

BATAVIA – While the cool spring has helped to hold off any severe weather in the area, WGN-TV meteorologist Tom Skilling said he is worried that could change in a hurry as temperatures start to warm up.

"This might come on rather vigorously when it gets going," Skilling said Wednesday. "And in fact the cool weather may actually contribute to strengthening jet streams that help produce these strong storms. My fear is that when this season gets going, it could be an active one because we've got a very active jet stream."

Skilling will host his 33rd annual tornado and severe weather seminar Saturday at Fermilab in Ramsey Auditorium. Two sessions will be presented, at noon and at 6 p.m.

WGN-TV will stream the entire seminar starting at noon on

Visitors should enter the Fermilab grounds via the Pine Street entrance off Kirk Road. Attendees are advised to get there early because of the sessions’ popularity. The event attracts thousands every year.

“I think there is an interest because in this area, we are vulnerable to tornadoes,” said Skilling, who grew up in Aurora.

Skilling started the seminar in 1981 with Brian Smith, a Geneva native who is now the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service. As part of Saturday's seminar, National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini will talk about Superstorm Sandy and the damage it caused to the East Coast last year.

"It even affected our area with high winds and huge waves on Lake Michigan," Skilling said. "Sandy is an example of how the changing climate is impacting severe weather occurrences around the country."

Also part of the seminar will be Don Wuebbles, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who will discuss the correlation between climate change and severe weather.

"He was a moving force behind the Montreal Protocol," Skilling said. "That was the international agreement that banned chlorofluorocarbons as propellants in aerosol cans, and as a result of that work, the ozone layer is on the mend."

Other speakers will include:

• Russ Schneider, the director of the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center at Norman, Okla.

• Ed Fenelon, head of the National Weather Service’s Chicago Forecast Office, and Warning Coordination Meteorologist Jim Allsopp, who will talk about the 50th anniversary of a devastating tornado which smashed into Kankakee.

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