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WKU storm chasers ready for annual forecast field course

Each year during WKU’s May term, Dr. Josh Durkee assembles a group of 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.

WKU storm chasers documented a supercell near Limon, Colorado, during their May 2015 field course. (Photo by Josh Durkee)

WKU storm chasers documented a supercell near Limon, Colorado, during their May 2015 field course. (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. In its seventh year, the group heads out Sunday (May 15) with plans to target the southern Great Plains for the first round of severe storms on Monday (May 16). Each year the group intercepts a variety of severe weather phenomena, including damaging hail and wind events, dangerous lightning, floods and tornadoes.

This year, the group will be conducting research in collaboration with the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil to study atmospheric circulation with respect to water vapor trajectories in severe storm environments.

“We have been working with colleagues at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul to document water vapor sources for large thunderstorm complexes across Brazil,” Dr. Durkee said. “This year we will have Flávia Moraes of Porte Alegre Brazil joining us as a Visiting Scholar to participate in the field course and help conduct similar research across the Plains. We also have Lucas Cantos Almeida from the University of São Paulo Brazil joining us as well. This is an exciting new element to our forecast applications course.”

Students who were selected to participate in the 2016 course are Issac Bowers of Aurora, Indiana; Jonathan Calloway of Morgantown; Logan Mitchell of Hebron; Jessica Dobson of Louisville; Lucas Cantos Almeida of Recife Brazil; Flávia Moraes of Porte Alegre Brazil; and Jonathan Piercy of Pembroke.

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

More: WKU Meteorology Program

Contact: Josh Durkee, joshua.durkee@wku.edu

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