17 October 2011

Tornadoes and Those Who Study Them

Posted by Dan Satterfield

McWane Science Center in Birmingham Saturday. It was all about weather!

I did a quick presentation on Saturday at the National Weather Association’s public outreach day. The event was held at the McWane Science Center in downtown Birmingham. This coming week, is the annual NWA conference. This year it’s a joint meeting with the GOES Users Conference, and I’m presenting at the GUC on Thursday, along with being a co-chair of one session.

There is no other science that fascinates the public more than the study of the atmosphere, with space and astronomy coming in second. That’s why these events are so important. We need to inspire the next generation of researchers and forecasters!

UAH atmospheric science graduate student Elise Schultz stands by the UAH mobile data vehicle.

My presentation followed someone who is one of the giants in this field, Don Burgess. Don was at OU when I started as a student in 1977 and he recently retired after a long career as a research meteorologist for NOAA. Burgess invented severe weather nowcasting, and every time I spot a tornado vortex signature on radar (the slang is TVS), it’s because of Don Burgess that I and other severe weather nowcasters know what we are looking at!

Don has retired from federal service, but is still working part-time at Okla. University. He was involved in the NSF funded VORTEX 2 project designed to learn more about how tornadoes form. This project is already providing eye-opening research and I listened intently to everything Don said. Frankly, every meteorologist/forecaster I know listens intently to everything Don says!

Don was kind enough to let me ask him some questions while looking at my flip video cam.

The raw video is below.


More later in the week from the GUC.