MSU students who chase the storms

Reported by: Robert Byers
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Updated: 6/04/2013 4:11 pm
STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) - We caught up with an MSU meteorology instructor and a recent graduate as they looked at radar images from last week's deadly tornado that killed three storm chasers.

They both emphasize how these professionals play a valuable role in weather research.

The two add that when students are sent to chase storms they are kept a very safe distance away.

MSU Meteorology Instructor Renny Vandewege said, "We don't get very close. We aren't conducting any research. We're just trying to use the atmosphere as a living textbook."

Recent MSU graduate Drew Fultz said, "Out there you can see storms from 10, 15 or 20 miles away. You can even see tornadoes from 10 miles away."

MSU takes a group of student storm chasers each year to areas of the country where they can observe a variety of weather systems.

Vandewege said, "You can learn so much from looking at a radar image and then seeing what that radar image looks like out in the atmosphere."

The graduate of the program who we talked to went on a storm chase last year.

Fultz said, "All of these other science classes have labs. For us in our discipline we can't put a thunderstorm in our lab. This is like our lab work."

Despite the dangers that can happen, these weather experts say knowing what type of storm you're dealing with and putting safety above all else is key to making sure this learning process continues here and elsewhere.

Vandewege said, "We don't call it a tornado chase. We call it a storm chase because we're looking for beautiful storms and why they form."

Ultimately, he says, it's to provide better protection for all from these sometimes violent and even deadly storms.
An average of 200 students are enrolled yearly in the MSU meteorology program.

Many of those who graduate work in broadcasting or for the National Weather Service.
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