UNC Class Assignment: Find and Chase Storms for 10 Days
May 9, 2018
A group of 12 students enrolled in a summer-session meteorology class at the University
of Northern Colorado will get a unique field experience this month when they spend
10 days chasing severe storms across multiple states.
The class, “Storm Chasing in the Great Plains,” is led by UNC Assistant Professor David Lerach, an experienced storm chaser who also researches extreme weather and teaches Advanced Weather Prediction among other meteorology courses.
Students will conduct weather briefings each morning to determine where they’ll go from May 9-18. Eastern Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska — and even the Dakotas and Oklahoma — are all possibilities.
While Lerach said the storms are predictable enough that they’ll know where to position themselves to stay out of harm’s way, they’ll take safety precautions. They’ll travel in one van to make “quicker decisions.” They’ve practiced a safety drill to load the van in under 30 seconds to prepare to leave an area quickly. They’ll have weather software on GPS-enabled devices that will help them know where they are relative to the storm — even without cell coverage.
Also, everyone has been trained as a National Weather Service weather spotter.
If severe weather doesn’t materialize, Lerach has backup plans for the class to conduct other weather-related and forecasting activities.
Lerach said the experience out in the field will provide students with engaging opportunities to apply science by observing weather phenomena firsthand to help them in careers as future forecasters or educators.
“It’s not just better appreciation that they’ll gain, but also a better understanding of what the physical world can create and why and how it does so,” Lerach said.
Follow the Class
The class will post storm photos during their fieldwork at https://twitter.com/uncowx
Photo credit: NOAA