Through the eyes of the storm

Claire+Wever%2C+photographer%2C+projected+artwork+done+by+Mikki+Philippe+onto+Rachel+Hickman%27s+body.
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Through the eyes of the storm

Claire Wever, photographer, projected artwork done by Mikki Philippe onto Rachel Hickman's body.

Claire Wever, photographer, projected artwork done by Mikki Philippe onto Rachel Hickman's body.

Claire Wever

Claire Wever, photographer, projected artwork done by Mikki Philippe onto Rachel Hickman's body.

Claire Wever

Claire Wever

Claire Wever, photographer, projected artwork done by Mikki Philippe onto Rachel Hickman's body.

Black clouds roll in, lightning flashes across the sky and the outside light begins to fade to dark; Rachel Hickman’s job as a storm spotter has just begun. She picks up her phone, ready to make the call to warn the public.

“I want to become a meteorologist when I [finish] college,” Rachel, senior, said. “That has always been my goal. I’ve just always been intrigued with the weather, and I always want to  know more about it. I [told] my science teacher, Mrs. Ray, and she suggested I become a storm spotter.”

In order to become a certified storm spotter, Rachel attended a three-hour class at Webster Groves High School in fall 2014, where she learned about different types of weather and what to look for. In the summer of 2006, Rachel’s interest in storm spotting began.

“There was a strong line of thunderstorms that came through,” Rachel said. “A lot of limbs fell from trees and some trees fell across the road. We were out of power for seven days. Shortly after, I went to the National Weather Service for an open house in Weldon Springs. ”
As a storm spotter, Rachel calls the National Weather Service to report her location and the weather she observes. The National Weather Service then changes the radars for the local area and reports it to news forecasters.

Melissa Ray, science teacher, said Rachel is the type of person that will give 110 percent, no matter the situation. She is a very tenacious person, which will help her in the future with her goal of becoming a meteorologist, Ray said.

“[Rachel] has consistently done her work and always does it well,” Ray said. “There is no doubt in my mind that she will succeed in what she plans on doing later in life because she is the type of person that won’t stop until greatness is achieved.”
Carla Hickman, Rachel’s mother, said ever since Rachel was in 2nd or 3rd grade she has always wanted a job with the weather. And going through middle school and high school, her interest has only grown stronger, Carla said.

“As a kid, Rachel would always play in the rain,” Carla said. “When we went driving, she would stick her head out the window to admire the clouds in the sky. She has always had a desire to learn and observe information about the weather and her surrounding environment.”

Rachel said with storm spotting, she gets to do what she loves. To her, storms are powerful and loud but also peaceful. Rachel said storm spotting is valuable to her because she wants to be able to protect people.

“The most important thing about storm spotting is relaying the information to other people who may not be aware of the situation,” Rachel said. “There could be a big funnel cloud, but if nobody called that weather in, nobody would know to go to safety and seek shelter. With storm spotting, I can potentially save people’s lives.”