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Twin Cities weatherman addresses everyone's favorite topic: Weather

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education River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

WCCO-Channel 4 meteorologist Chris Shaffer visited Rocky Branch Elementary Thursday, March 21.

Shaffer, who grew up in Stillwater, Minn., asked an assembly of students to guess what the deadliest weather is.

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Most guessed tornadoes and hurricanes. The answer is heat waves, followed by rain (flooding) and lightning (thunderstorms).

Shaffer gave the Rocky Branch assembly summer tips, like staying hydrated and wearing light-colored clothes to avoid heat-related illness.

During the presentation, Shaffer had the kids repeat, "Turn around, don't drown" when talking about flooding. He emphasized that moving water is very dangerous -- stating that 18 inches of water can make a vehicle float away.

A fun fact he told students was that the largest hail ever reported was in Gideon, S.D., and it was the size of a soccer ball -- pea size is the most common.

He suggested that the kids stay indoors or seek shelter anytime the hail gets to be golf ball size or bigger.

When talking about tornados, Shaffer said that the months of May-August are when the most tornados occur -- the earliest being March and latest being November.

He went on to say that most tornadoes strike between 2-9 p.m. and that night tornados are the most dangerous because they cannot be seen. Shaffer said that in 2010 the area saw 113 tornados with 47 occurring in a single day - the annual average is 27-30 tornadoes.

Shaffer mentioned three things that made him decide to become a meteorologist. The first being the story his grandmother told him about her brother being struck by lightning and killed. Shaffer said that story made him question why the lightning would pick him (his grandmother's brother).

The second thing that got him interested in weather was a blizzard that stranded his family in a church while traveling through southwest Minnesota.

Shaffer told the students that the last thing that sparked his interest was a tornado in Maplewood, Minn., that followed his car and while he looked out the back window he thought, "What is that?"

According to Shaffer, he went to the library to research each of these things and his interest grew until he became a meteorologist.

After talking with the entire student body about weather and becoming a meteorologist, Shaffer gave tours of the WCCO Mobile Weather Watcher vehicle.

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