National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


Photos taken from U.S. Representative Filemon Vela, March 25th 2013
Newly Elected Congressman Visits NWS Brownsville/RGV
Rep. Filemon Vela (D–Texas 34th District) and Staff Learn How We Serve

For the second time in a year, NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley welcomed a sitting U.S. Congressman to the office for a visit. In June 2012, Congressman Blake Farenthold (R–Texas 27th District) stopped by with his staff; in November, elections were held to fill an added district (the 34th) due to increased Texas population in the 2010 Census.

U.S. Congressman Filemon Vela, who represents a portion of South Texas from the Lower Rio Grande Valley through the King Ranch, extending to rural areas east of San Antonio, visited the National Weather Service in Brownsville during the morning of March 25th, 2013. The Representative, District Directors Marisela Cortez (Cameron County) and Humberto Garza (Hidalgo County) were treated to a presentation by Meteorologist in Charge (MIC) Steve Drillette and Warning Coordination Meteorologist Barry Goldsmith on the National Weather Service, including an overview of the agency, the Weather Ready Nation initiative, and the many ways NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley serves more than 1 million people across the southern most portion of Texas. Mr. Vela asked a number of questions on topics ranging from tornado and hurricane forecasting to the ongoing drought.

Following the presentation and discussion, Science and Operations Officer Douglas Butts gave Mr. Vela and his guests a tour of the operations area. The tour included a discussion of the remodeled operations area which serves as the "hub" of decision support and collaboration amongst staff and core partners to improve weather readiness. The tour was followed by a description of how data and computer model information are processed into weather forecasts by Senior Forecaster Joseph Tomaselli. The visit ended after a "decision support" style weather briefing was provided by Mr. Tomaselli and Forecaster Justin Gibbs. Each guest was provided a NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley bag filled with NWS information and promotional items, and included a copy of the 2012 Texas Hurricane Guide, Rio Grande Valley Edition.

Rep. Vela was impressed with the office and staff. "We appreciate the services you provide for our community." Vela added, "Please let me know how I can help you in Washington, and please be sure to include us in your briefings and communications whenever a significant weather event is forecast to affect the area." Meteorologist in Charge Drillette was equally impressed with Mr. Vela’s interest and depth of questions. "We were honored to have Rep. Vela take time to visit our office. He posed many excellent questions in regards to our services and partnerships, and was most supportive of our mission in working to save lives."

Official portrait of Texas U.S. Congressional Representative Filemon Vela, 34th District