Ninth annual WKU storm chase class begins May 14
- WKU News
- Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018
When spring semester classes end, most students look forward to sunny days of rest and relaxation. But the eight students in WKU’s annual May Term storm chase class look forward to stormy days of travel and tornadoes.
For the ninth year, students in Dr. Josh Durkee’s Field Methods in Weather Analysis and Forecasting course will become a mobile forecast team in their journey across the Great Plains to forecast, analyze, document and study severe convective storms.
“To me this class is the embodiment of the student-centered applied research teaching strategy,” said Dr. Durkee, director of White Squirrel Weather and Associate Professor of Meteorology in WKU’s Department of Geography and Geology. “This class puts students in situations to make real decisions.”
The four-week course (May 14-June 8) includes two weeks (May 14-28) spent traveling across the Plains tracking severe storms. (Follow the WKU storm chasers on Twitter @wkustormchase or on the WKU Meteorology Blog at http://meteorology.blog.wku.edu/)
This year’s student participants are Bailey Stevens of Bloomington, Illinois; Cait French of Knoxville, Tennessee; Isaac Smith of Marysville, Indiana; Greg Docekal of Marietta, Georgia; Gerardo Diaz of Chicago, Illinois; Evan Hatter of Frankfort; Carson Meredith of Louisville; and Thomas Giebel of Germantown, Maryland.
More than 60 students have participated in the course since 2010. “My former students still say the storm chase class was one of their best experiences at WKU,” Dr. Durkee said.
In addition to forecasting and analytic skills, students develop teamwork and career-building skills as they work with others during long days and in challenging situations. “This truly is an employable experience, not a fun tornado tour,” he said.
The course is one of the professional learning experiences offered by WKU’s Meteorology Program, which includes the College Heights Atmospheric Observatory for Students (CHAOS) and White Squirrel Weather. Recent graduates have gone to work for the National Weather Service, emergency management or other agencies, broadcast meteorology positions, private sector jobs and graduate school.
“We learn all these theories in the classroom, but we have to get out and apply these skill sets and see if they work,” Dr. Durkee said.
The storm chase class was part of the inaugural WKU SpiritFunder campaign in 2017 as the Meteorology Program sought to raise funds to help offset travel costs for students. More: Make a gift to the program online.
Contact: Josh Durkee, (270) 745-8777