Meteorologist Erik Salna is Associate Director of Education Outreach for the Extreme Events Institute (EEI) and the International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC) at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami.
Salna’s interest in weather was sparked as a child growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. He experienced lightening hitting a tree outside his bedroom window, the blizzards of 1967 and 1979, and thundersnow. These events started a fascination with weather that has stayed with Salna and has contributed to his focus on extreme weather.
Throughout his career, Salna’s focus and passion has been education outreach. He has participated in and presented many outreach programs, including the National Weather Service’s Owlie Skywarn Live Theater Show. Another public education endeavor is the development of Extreme Weather Experience, a one-of-a-kind company that will develop weather education/entertainment through experiential, immersive, and hands-on weather-themed attractions, rides, exhibits, programs, and live events. The mission is to teach people how to be prepared and to survive dangerous weather situations.
“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.”