Talk about the weather: Pamlico Power Squadron to host weather course

Published 4:39 pm Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Pamlico Power Squadron is set to host ten weeks of weather for those searching for a more in depth understanding of weather forecasting.

The classes will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday evenings from March 4 to May 6 in the fellowship hall of First Presbyterian Church in Washington.

“We’re going to be taking people through the basics of weather forecasting, specifically for this area,” said Dr. Tom Penders, who will be teaching the course.

Penders teaches psychiatry at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine, but when Pamlico Power Squadron asked him to run its educational program, he turned his attention, and study, to the weather.

“I became a weather geek,” Penders laughed.

While doing so, he also earned a weather forecasting certificate from Penn State University and has been sharing his knowledge with other boaters since.

“A 20 percent chance of rain — what does that mean? What’s a small-craft warning? When would the Coast Guard put up a small-craft warning? How confident am I in the forecast on The Weather Channel? It’s important to have a situational awareness of what is going to happen on the water during the time you’re going to be out there,” Penders explained.

Penders said the course isn’t solely for boaters — anyone with an interest in forecasting can take part. He noted learning weather basics can actually give amateur weather forecasters the tools to make predictions more accurate than those found on regional forecasts.

But for those contemplating multiple-day trips on the water, learning what goes into a weather forecast can build boaters’ confidence in local forecasts, and boost their own abilities to gauge how a forecast equates to what happens on the water.

“It will increase your understanding of what’s going on above you,” Penders said.

The Pamlico Power Squadron’s weather course costs $60 for Power Squadron members and $80 for nonmembers. For more information, or to register for the course, call Chris Young at 252-946-7853 or email