Storm Forcasting & Observation Program

Program Description

Central Plains States Region (Tornado Alley)

Fundamentals can be taught in the classroom, but the true laboratory for a meteorologist is outside in the free air of the atmosphere. The Storm Forecasting and Observation Program (Storm Chasers) teaches students to observe weather patterns and predict changes by applying their classroom learning to the forecasting and observation of actual storms. The program is scheduled to coincide with the climatological peak for tornado occurrence in the United States late May into early June.

Research and travel
Participants drive to Tornado Alley in the Central Plains States for the first two weeks of this 3-week program. Each morning, students will analyze real-time data, produce forecasts, discuss their forecasts, and depart to the target area where it is believed that severe thunderstorms will develop.

During the 2009 and 2010 chase seasons we participated in the VORTEX 2 (Verification of the Origin of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment) field campaign, launching rawinsondes to better understand the environment in and around tornadic thunderstorms. At the end of each chase day, participants will compare what was observed to their forecasts.

The last week of the program will take place back on the SUNY Oswego campus, where students compare their observations and forecast methods to the latest theories on severe storm development and forecast techniques. Participants conduct research projects with the data collected during each chase. Some students develop case studies of specific events while others test hypotheses related to thunderstorm behavior.

Prerequisites and application
The program is designed for individuals with at least two years of college experience (exceptions can be made at the instructor's discretion). A competitive application and interview process will be used to select the participants.

Students who wish to receive credit for their experience can register for an independent study the following fall to continue the research they began and develop a final product (a written and oral report).

Program coordinator
Associate Professor Scott M. Steiger has studied thunderstorms observationally for over a decade. He was co-coordinator of the Texas A&M Mobile Severe Storms Data Acquisition group while a graduate student at Texas A&M University. Scott chased storms for research and recreational purposes every season while attending Texas A&M and has also worked for both a private storm chasing company and a college storm chasing program. He has been an active member of the American Meteorological Society and American Geophysical Union for many years.

Dr. Steiger has taught courses on meso-meteorology, which includes the study of thunderstorms and the severe weather they can produce, both at Texas A&M and SUNY Oswego. His research interests include short-term forecasting of severe local storms using radar and lightning data. He also is an avid weather photographer for lightning and tornadoes. He looks forward to sharing his in-depth knowledge and experience with students in the best way he knows possible - by going outside!


Contact information
Dr. Scott Steiger
366 Shineman Center
Department of Earth Sciences
SUNY Oswego
Additional Pictures (pdf)