A SUNY Oswego professor is packing, getting ready to take 16 of his students on a field trip to Tornado Alley.
"It's a thrill to be so close," says Professor Scott Steiger, who's led research trips to the midwest for ten years. But, it's a lot more than sightseeing for the juniors and seniors.
'The lab for meteorologists is not in the building," says Steiger. "We have to go outside and study the weather."
The students and their equipment, including two SUNY Oswego vans fitted with radar and gps tracking systems, will spend two weeks chasing storms. Every morning, they'll look at weather maps and decide where to head, to see afternoon storms, and hopefully tornadoes, develop. In the evening they'll compare their expectations to the professional forecasts in the area.
Steiger says it will be safe, not expecting to get any closer than 5 miles to tornadoes, if they develop, 'not like the movie Twister,' he laughs.
After their two weeks of field experience, the students come back to SUNY Oswego for a week of debriefs and mini-research projects on what they've seen.
The students get plenty of experience during the school year, studying Central New York Lake Effect. But, seeing tornadoes and the systems that spawn them is a very different experience. "Most of them are not going to get jobs in Upstate New York," says Steiger. "They'll get jobs in other parts of the country. So they need this exposure to other types of weather besides Central New York weather."