PUNXSUTAWNEY — Meteorologist Erik Salna, a meteorologist who has been experiencing extreme weather up close from a young age, has been named The Weather Discovery Center’s 2020 Meteorologist Hall of Fame inductee.
Salna will be inducted into the hall of fame on Feb. 1 at noon at the Weather Discovery Center. Salna is the associate director of visualization, communication, public education, and engagement for the Extreme Events Institute and the International Hurricane Research Center at Florida International University in Miami.
Salna’s interest in extreme weather was sparked as a child in the suburbs of Chicago when he experienced lightning hitting a tree outside his bedroom window, the blizzards of 1967 and 1979 and “thundersnow.”
Salna earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physical geography with a focus on meteorology from the University of Illinois, and a Master of Science degree in meteorology from Northern Illinois University. He has 25 years of broadcast meteorology experience, served as the director of the Hurricane Warning Education Program at the Disaster Survival House in Deerfield, Florida, and spent time at America’s Emergency Network.
In his current position, Salna was part of a team who constructed the Wall of Wind, an experimental facility for simulating hurricane force winds up to Category five for the purpose of researching ways of minimizing damage from such events.
His passion has been education and outreach throughout his career, participating in and presenting many programs. His current project, the Extreme Weather Experience is a one-of-a-kind company that develops weather education/entertainment experiences such as hands-on exhibits, interactive programs, and immersive live events.
These are meant to teach people how to prepare and survive dangerous weather situations. As CCO of the company, Salna has professionals whose affiliations include Disney, Pixar Films, the National Weather Service, and The Weather Channel.
“I believe entertaining special effects and immersive techniques can be used to educate the public about extreme weather,” says Salna. “Immersing a person in a hurricane, tornado, or flood could cause a positive change in behavior regarding preparedness and safety.”