Rutgers Students Hit the Road to Chase Gathering Storms

Credit: Matt Drews

‘Severe Weather Field Trip’ took budding meteorologists to Tornado Alley

Photo credit: Matt Drews

A few days into their adventure, students who signed up for the new 3-credit course “Severe Weather Field Trip” spotted the Holy Grail for storm chasers. Just north of Cheyenne, Wyoming, 15 Rutgers students watched a swirling tornado.

The sighting was a highlight of the two-week storm-chasing caravan that crisscrossed the highways and back roads of Tornado Alley.

“From a safe distance of 10 miles, we saw [the tornado] quite clearly, not as a big funnel but as swirling dust,” said Steven Decker, an assistant professor in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. “Even if we hadn’t seen a tornado, every team of students managed to see severe thunderstorms, their structure. It was exciting, dramatic and fun to see.”

The new summer course was designed to help students “better understand the dynamics and thermodynamics that lead to some of the most beautiful yet complex atmospheric circulations on Earth,” according to its course description.

Read the full story and watch video from the trip at Rutgers Focus.

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