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WKU Class Goes on Fourteen Day Storm Chase

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky (6/12/13) -- For the fourth year, Dr. Josh Durkee, assistant professor of Geography and Geology at Western Kentucky University, led a class called "Field Methods/Weather Analysis and Forecasting." This class consists of a 14 day trip of storm chasing.

Durkee said the basis of the class is to provide students with hands on forecasting experience that gives students real decision making with real consequences and outcomes. Students wake up each morning and analyze the atmosphere to make a forecast for a place where storms are going to be severe. They then drive to that area and document the outcome to see if the forecast was correct.

Durkee and the students left on May 18 and returned on June 1. They drove 7,115 miles across 10 states, mostly in the great plains region.

"I'd say this is the most productive class we've had in those four years," Durkee said. "Out of the 14 days there was only one day when the storms did not occur. Every other day than that we were documenting storms."

The group did not get to document the Moore, Okla. tornado. They were about seventy miles southwest of Moore at the time of the tornado. Durkee said they also typically avoid bigger cities like that because there are several things that get in the way of documenting storms, like large populations.

The class documented a confirmed 4 tornadoes. The largest was on May 28 outside Bennington, Kan. It was an EF4 tornado that was over a mile wide.

Durkee said the students got the "full spectrum" on this trip, because they were able to document storms of all kinds, from tornadoes to flash flooding.

Aaron Frasier
SurfKY News Group
Photo provided by Josh Durkee

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