Storm-chasing class on road hunting, learning from extreme weather

Scott Steiger’s storm-chasing meteorology class is on the road again, using the Great Plains states as a living laboratory to research extreme weather.

The “Storm Forecasting and Observation” course took to the road the last week in May, where its path is determined by probability of extreme weather that will provide the best research and observation. “Every morning, we’ll have a forecast discussion as a guide. Then we’ll travel to our target zone where we believe we’ll have the best chance to observe storms,” Steiger said when the program was first launched, noting that the class will also stress observing the weather safely. “I want students to be able to learn how to forecast the weather, but also how to observe the weather. By going out, looking at clouds, feeling the temperature and the moisture in the air, they are learning by observing.”

Tornado in Kansas photographed by storm-chasing classIt didn’t take long for the class to find extraordinary conditions, as they chased and photographed a large tornado in Kansas on Tuesday afternoon, May 28 (pictured). “My students’ pictures were featured on The Weather Channel,” Steiger said via email. “It was quite an experience as we watched this storm from cumulus cloud to raging tornado. Thank God it just hit an open field!”

Dave Eichorn,’s chief meteorologist who has studied and taught at SUNY Oswego, has been filing updates and posting video on the Central New York news source. Local media including YNN and CNYCentral also covered the class gearing up for its trip, shortly after a massive deadly tornado in Oklahoma served as a reminder on how much is still not known about this extreme weather phenomenon.

The Storm Chasers team files updates on their progress and pursuits on their Facebook page and @OswegoChasers Twitter account.

Steiger is an associate professor in Oswego’s earth sciences department. A meteorology graduate of Oswego, he earned his doctorate in atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University and joined Oswego’s faculty in 2003.

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(Posted: May 29, 2013)