Local students chase powerful storms out west

Starting next Tuesday, 15 students and 4 professors, most of whom are from SUNY Oswego, will be departing for a two-week long storm chase in the Plains States. Theyâ??ll be on the hunt for powerful, rotating thunderstorms, called supercells.

Scott Steiger, Assistant Professor of Meteorology at SUNY Oswego, said the following about the chase. â??Basically, each day the students will forecast the weather, pick out a location where they thing severe storms will occur, and then weâ??ll go there, chase the storms and do some research with them. Then, at the end of the day, we compare their forecasts with what we observed, and thatâ??s where the real learning happens.â??

Of course, chasers often get asked the question: â??Why donâ??t you just chase around here?â?? Well, as youâ??ll often here us CNYCentral First Alert Meteorologists talk about, the storms around here typically donâ??t get that powerful. Also, Central NY has large topographical variability with a lot of valleys and hills, along with an abundance of trees. All of that adds up to poor visibility and tough chase conditions.

While in the Plains States, the group plans on meeting up with scientists from the center for severe weather research, based in Boulder, CO. They plan to assist with the ROTATE project, which is short for â??Radar Observations of Tornadoes and Thunderstorms Experiment.â??

Steiger says â??My main goal is for the students to get a lot of experience both observing storms, forecasting for them, and doing some research. And that way, they learn a lot. The classroom for a meteorologist is outside, so they learn a lot by going outside and observing the weather.â??