The operation and purpose of a weather balloon is explained during the open house event at the NWS Sterling office. Weather balloons were launched every two hours.

The weather was spectacular for the National Weather Service (NWS) Weather-Ready Nation open house event that occurred at the NWS Sterling office this past weekend. The two-day event celebrated the first year of the Weather-Ready Nation initiative and launched a new pilot project at the NWS Sterling office, serving Washington, D.C., Baltimore and the surrounding region.

The Weather-Ready Nation initiative is about empowering people with the information they need to make quick, intelligent, and life-saving decisions during extreme weather events.

Related: Meteorologists congregate in New Orleans, tout building a ‘weather-ready nation’

The pilot program launched at the NWS Sterling office will help the local community reach the highest level of preparedness for extreme weather. The Sterling office has brought aboard three emergency response meteorologists to lead this effort.

Read below for more information and photos of the event.

Kim Couranz of the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office talks to visitors at the NWS open house. Kim handed out free children’s books on subjects that related to the Chesapeake Bay.

The NWS plans to dispatch the emergency response meteorologists to assist “on the scene” during major weather events, offering on-demand briefings. They’ll also help bridge the gap between weather forecasts and decision-making by providing more event-specific forecast products and services, explaining possible impacts in detail, and getting key messages out using new communication technologies and social media.

NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, FEMA’s John McGowan, and Rep. Frank Wolf helped kick off the launch event.

“These weather forecast improvements will help emergency managers more effectively mitigate the impacts of flash flooding, floods, snow storms and other disasters in our area,” said Congressman Wolf

One of the primary goals for the open house event was to let the public meet the NWS forecasters and to learn more about their weather forecasts and weather warnings. The public was also given an opportunity to meet partner organizations who assist with increasing the weather readiness of the community and to learn about volunteer programs and a variety weather-related information.

Related: National Weather Service open house [last] weekend; visit Capital Weather Gang booth

The attendance for the open house was just as spectacular as the weekend weather. Thousands of visitors filed through the buildings and tents to watch to various presentations, to learn about the forecast office operations, and to observe the release of weather balloons.

At the end of the event, Christopher Strong, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Baltimore/Washington forecast office, said that all of his goals for the event were achieved and that NOAA and NWS continue to make strides toward making us a weather-ready nation.

“All that attended had a fun and informative time,” Strong said.

Christopher Strong, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Baltimore/Washington forecast office, begins the NWS volunteer ceremony. Each volunteer was personally recognized by Chris.

The Capital Weather Gang staffed a table at the open house event. Our CWG members handed out note pads, blog information, and posted a sign up list for CWG weather spotters. From left-to-right, Jamie Jones, Brian Jackson, and Kevin Ambrose.

A group of visitors enter the NWS Sterling forecast office to learn about its operations, forecasts, and weather warnings.

The weekend weather was beautiful for the Weather-Ready Nation open house event. This is the entrance of the Sterling forecast office.

A wide view of the Sterling forecast office and its doppler radar (left). The 32.4” Snowmageddon measurement for Dulles Airport was made at this location, near the center of this photo next to the forecast office.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Fire and Rescue team displayed their equipment at the open house.

The Lions Club provided food for the public and they also brought a lion mascot that entertained the kids.

Andrew Woodcock (Woody), Senior Forecaster, gave a very interesting presentation about the history of weather forecasting. The forecasts for the Galveston Hurricane and D-Day were discussed along with many other early weather events.

Many kids with their families attended the open house and learned about many aspects of weather and weather forecasting.

There was plenty of food and drink available for the visitors.