By Bryan Holman, Research Assistant – Meteorology
I grew up a severe weather enthusiast. Why? I have no idea. On my 12th birthday I went and saw Twister in theaters. Since that day I told my family that if I had the opportunity and wasn’t married, I’d become a storm chaser. Demand for that job is incredibly high, and I did end up getting married (and have two great kids!), so spending months at a time in the MidWest chasing tornadoes simply would not fit into my life right now. To me, that is why having the Doppler on Wheels (DOW) here on campus was so special.
Doppler on Wheels rolls to town
There are thousands of weather enthusiasts in this country, and only two DOWs. The educational outreach funded by the National Science Foundation gives students all over the country a little taste of the thrilling life of a storm-chaser. I cannot stress how unique an opportunity it was to have the DOW here. The entire experience was exhilarating. Imagine it, getting to wake up
early to head over to the National Weather Service in town (which is also rare) and be a part of the forecasting experience for the day and putting my weather knowledge to the test in the field, then getting to brief the rest of the team and spend an afternoon deploying multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art equipment to gaze at thunderstorms!?
The experience, in part, was a dream come true. I’m so thankful that I get to do my Doctorate experience at a smaller, private university where the professors put in the extra time to make experiences like these happen for their students. I doubt I’ll get an opportunity to be this involved in severe weather data collection for the rest of my life, so I greatly cherish the time I had when the DOW was here.
Moreover, we are now beginning to analyze the tens of gigabytes of data that we collected when the DOW was here. We have access to high-resolution radar data that nobody else has, and we have been set up into teams of graduate students and undergraduate students to push the science of radar meteorology forward.
Simply put, having the DOW here is an experience any weather enthusiast dreams about, and I got to enjoy it first-hand.