Columbia Center helps you map the weather

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - "This is the first attempt to bring National Weather Service data into a local East Texas map," says geospatial trainer Charles Ashton as he points to map that he calls "crude". Maps, as recent as Hurricane Ike, have more bling and information. He points to one that tracks four hurricanes at once. "We had Gustav. We had Hannah, Ike and Jessica all at the same time. We were tracking them all the same time right here in Nacogdoches to see how they will affect us here."

The maps come in all kinds of colors, known as mosaics to those who make them. They also contain dates, the work is catching the attention of the National Weather Service. The agency guided Ashton through the public domain maps. He then refines them to specific areas. "The National Weather Service maps are very good maps. Unfortunately, for a local resident they don't show East Texas specifically. With this, not only can you in Nacogdoches, Texas or Rusk or Angelina County or Travis County can take this map and determine what you need to do for the event." ashton makes it clear he doesn't forecast the weather, only maps it.  "We just simply take what the National Weather Service gives us and put it in a form where everybody can use it."

You can learn how to make the maps yourself. Ashton's free seminars link you with the Columbia center, local forecasts and technology. "What this allows people to do is to plan their defense of their home, boarding up, moving a car to shelter or even evacuate," said Ashton. A seminar will be held on Saturday at the Columbia center called, Weather, GIS and You. Space is limited, but future seminars are always on the schedule. This will be repeated and there will be others on how to use GPS. Something that should come in handy after Christmas. GPS units are said to be the number one choice for Christmas gifts this year. To learn more go to