Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Partnership with UW-Milwaukee helps us prepare for storms

“From the Innovative Weather Center at UW-Milwaukee, I’m Mackenzie Nuthals...”

You may have heard this introduction by UW-Milwaukee atmospheric science students providing the weather forecasts on WUWM radio. These interns not only are learning to provide forecasts for media but also how to provide forecasts for companies such as We Energies.

“On a daily basis, they provide a regular weather outlook of what we can expect: wind speeds, temps and potential lightning, anything that might impact our system,” said Duane Miller, manager – gas and electric operations at We Energies.

Their forecasts help us prepare and plan for what our customers and crews may face when a weather system moves in. This year’s interns recently toured our Pewaukee operations center where they learned how we use their forecasts.

Mike Westendorf, director of operations at Innovative Weather, had a vision when he began his partnership with us several years ago.

”We Energies wanted to have an entity that could interpret the weather and see it through their eyes. Since that time, We Energies has been our best and longest partner in this,” said Westendorf.

He explains that there’s a training component to the program offered by clients such as We Energies to help students grow into more confident forecasters.

Alli Keclik, Innovative Weather intern, said, “We are trying the best we can, so We Energies can do the best for its customers.”

Keclik is one of those confident forecasters. She says that she grew up loving the weather, which led her to study meteorology. She recently received her M.S. in atmospheric science degree. Her experience at Innovative Weather helped her get a job at the National Weather Service.

“This is definitely going to help me when I go out to the National Weather Service and will continue to help me in the future,” she said.

Westendorf echoes that sentiment, saying that UW-Milwaukee wants to train and educate young people to be productive members of their communities.

“What I love about this program is that We Energies is providing an opportunity for them to grow and to have skills that will make the students not only employable but also potential leaders wherever they go in the future,” he said.

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