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WKU storm chasers ready for annual forecast expedition

Each year during WKU’s May term, Dr. Josh Durkee assembles a group of eight students for his Field Methods in Weather Analysis and Forecasting course and together, they forecast, analyze, document and study severe convective storms across the Great Plains.

During the 2012 May term course, WKU Storm Chasers documented a tornado that formed near Piedmont, Okla. (Photo by Josh Durkee)

During the 2012 May term course, WKU storm chasers documented a tornado that formed near Piedmont, Okla. (Photo by Josh Durkee)

The course, which won the  “Creativity and Innovation Award” from the North American Association for Summer Programs in its inaugural year in 2010, runs for four weeks, including two spent traveling across the Plains tracking severe storms. During the previous three years, the groups have collectively traveled nearly 25,000 miles and documented 25 tornadoes, numerous damaging hail and wind events, dangerous lightning, and multiple floods. This year’s trip will begin Friday (May 17).

“My goal when I created this course was to provide a capstone, hands-on learning experience, never to be forgotten,” Dr. Durkee said.  “In any facet of learning, when ‘real world’ scenarios force you to make critically important decisions, your learning retention is going to greatly improve. The design of this course is based on this principle and consequently, the students come back from the trip with a deeper knowledge base and greater appreciation of our atmosphere.”

Students participating in the 2013 course are: Ryan Difani of Pocahontas, Ark.; Will Paschall of Germantown, Tenn.; Tyler Smith of Russellville; Colton Lindsey of Mount Vernon, Ind.; Andrew Schuler of Independence; Tara Wagoner of Lafayette, Tenn.; Ilea Schneider of Lewisport; and Veronica Hall of Livonia, Mich.

You can follow Dr. Durkee’s storm chase group as they document each day at http://meteorology.blog.wku.edu/, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/wkustormchase and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wkumetclimsci

Contact: Josh Durkee, (270) 745-8777.

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