20th annual Southeast Severe Storms Symposium welcomes weather experts to MSU next weekend

Contact: Sarah Nicholas

Severe Storms Symposium graphic banner

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State’s Department of Geosciences is welcoming some of the country’s top professionals in meteorology in April for the 20th annual Southeast Severe Storms Symposium, the first in-person severe weather meeting on campus since 2019.

Held April 2-3 on the first floor of Old Main Academic Center, the conference brings together meteorologists, students and weather experts to discuss and learn how severe weather impacts the Southeast region. Approximately 100-150 participants are expected to attend the event organized by the MSU student-led East Mississippi chapters of the National Weather Association and American Meteorology Society.

Register by April 1 at 5 p.m. at http://www.eastmsnwaams.com/registration.html. On-site registration also will be available April 2.            

Sponsored by MSU’s Department of Geosciences, College of Arts and Sciences and Office of the President, the symposium features four Mississippi State meteorology alumni as keynote speakers. They include:

James Spann, chief meteorologist for ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, Alabama

Amy Freeze, a meteorologist for FOX Weather Streaming Service

Captain Will Simmons, from the U.S. Air Force 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (Hurricane Hunters)

Jennifer M. Call, an atmospheric analyst at Tennessee Valley Authority and Certified Consulting Meteorologist for the energy sector.

“James Spann is one of our celebrities in the weather world and is universally recognized and loved for his coverage of severe weather in Alabama. As soon as we announced James Spann was one of our keynotes, our chapter members got so excited,” said Shaina Wilburn, an MSU Ph.D. student in earth and atmospheric sciences and this year’s symposium chair. 

Professionals from FOX Weather, a 24/7 streaming service operated by FOX News Media, will be in attendance to film interviews focused on the importance of MSU’s meteorology program and conduct a national weathercast from campus.

MSU announced this fall a commitment from FOX Weather to establish the FOX Weather Endowed Scholarship and the FOX Weather Annual Scholarship to further increase diversity and expand opportunities for academic success in the field of meteorology.

Wilburn said the event is a “priceless opportunity” for students to network and learn more about the meteorology community and field.

“Because this year is our 20th anniversary, we made sure to invite MSU meteorology alumni to headline the symposium as our keynotes,” Wilburn said. “We want to emphasize the family ties produced by our department that will continue to positively affect our students and allow them to have confidence in their degree.

“Our goal with keynote speakers is to introduce students to the unique paths within the meteorology field,” the Nashville native said. “I want students to know that even though we are in a niche field, there are so many jobs that require weather forecasts or research. Some students may not know that consulting meteorologists can influence company or government decisions, they can be asked to testify in court as expert witnesses and can make a living in things that might not immediately come to mind. Every sporting event needs a weather forecast, airlines need forecasts—the weather is one of those universal factors that will always play a part in planning and everyday life.

“Because our conference is smaller than the national meetings held by the AMS and the NWA, students have a more personal chance to present their research and receive feedback on their work,” said Wilburn.  

The East Mississippi chapters of the NWA/AMS promote excellence in professional meteorology through research, forecasting, broadcasting and education. Student officers work to build relationships between all who work with and study meteorology in East Mississippi and the surrounding area and take the lead in organizing the annual symposium.

Part of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Geosciences is recognized for its excellence in broadcast meteorology, weather forecasting, severe weather research, hydrometeorology, artificial intelligence, weather modeling and climate sciences. One in three of current on-air broadcast meteorologists is a graduate of MSU’s nationally recognized meteorology program. For more information, visit www.geosciences.2020gps.com.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at cas.2020gps.com.