Over the course of this snowy, stormy winter, while some students spent their time checking for school closings and delays, one Jefferson student has been hard at work analyzing the winter weather conditions to report on Facebook for his fellow students to see. Sophomore Akhil Rekulapelli frequents the Class of 2018 facebook group, posting whenever unusual weather strikes with maps depicting snowfall predictions and other weather phenomena. Many students use Rekulapelli posts to determine the probability of school schedule disruptions and learn more about meteorology through his writing.
Q-and-A: On Mar 8, tjTODAY interviewed Rekulapelli about his Facebook posts and this year’s winter weather.
Q: What got you interested in meteorology?
I really like geography, so I guess it was natural for me to enjoy studying the weather and the various patterns and climates the US has.
Q: How do you determine what weather information to post and when?
I normally try to compile my weather posts using various sources of info, which are normally the National Weather Service, Capital Weather Gang, and Mike Thomas from Fox 5, who gives great weather and snow updates, before, during, and after the storm. During our huge blizzard I would stay up just to watch his “Mike at Night” Facebook podcasts to get as much info and to learn as much as I could.
Q: How did you feel about our winter weather this year?
Well, the average for Dulles airport is around 22 inches a year, from the National Weather Service, and contrary to popular belief I thought that this winter was quite sub-par with the El Nino, as the only legitimate snow we got was the 30 plus inches from that huge storm that moved midterms. There’s also been an up-down trend in the past years, with the peak being at two years ago in a five year period.
Q: Why do you think winter weather posts are so popular on facebook?
I think that winter weather posts are popular, almost certainly because everyone wants to #closefcps, and therefore want to know the legitimacy as to whether school closes or not, and I love making those posts that show big snow, cause I know that it brings a lot of joy to a sometimes stressful TJ life. On the other hand, it really saddens me to give bad news, but a lot of [students] take it well and still appreciate my posts, which really makes my day.
Q: What is your opinion on school closings because of snow and other weather factors?
I think FCPS has been pretty on point as to closing schools this winter, contrary to last winter, and overall, most counties in the [D.C., Maryland, Virginia region] have made good decisions regarding school closure, except for Prince William, who closed last week due to only an inch of snow on grassy areas, and minimal road cover.