Severe Weather Research

I'm currently searching for new opportunities in severe weather research in Australia, please get in touch if you are looking for collaborators!
On my first Oklahoma storm chase, in June 2007, grinning ear-to-ear with a supercell behind me.

On my first Oklahoma storm chase, in June 2007, grinning ear-to-ear with a supercell behind me.

My love for extreme weather is what got me hooked on meteorology in the first place.  From a young age, I had a sixth sense for severe weather events and felt a strong connection to the skies when the weather turned nasty.  This magnetic draw drove me to read every weather-related book at the local library when I was in primary school, and eventually led me to study meteorology at Ohio University (B.S. 2008) and the University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology (M.S. 2011).

During the 2007-2011 period, I researched thunderstorms at the National Severe Storms Laboratory, worked in the Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms and participated in the Vortex2 project.  I ran analyses on very-high resolution (50m) simulations of tornadic supercells, worked (sometimes it felt like I lived) in the National Weather Center had many first-hand experiences with nature's fury storm chasing in the Great Plains.  So while I'm currently putting my efforts into solar energy applications, its good to publicly acknowledge that severe weather has always been something I intend to get back into researching.  Particularly now that I've moved to Australia and have experience a whole new realm of extreme atmospheric events to draw from - bushfires, east coast lows, supercells in southeast Queensland - and more.

Here, I'll document what I've done with severe weather in the past and possibly link to some pages with more information on these sub-topics..


#1: Mesoscale convective systems

An MCS moves over the Oklahoma Mesonet, where the high-density weather station network is able to sample the thunderstorm outflow environment.

An MCS moves over the Oklahoma Mesonet, where the high-density weather station network is able to sample the thunderstorm outflow environment.

I spent the summer of 2007 working the U.S. National Severe Storms Laboratory using the Oklahoma Mesonet to sample the surface environments of large, organised squall lines called Mesoscale Convective Systems. This work was published in Monthly Weather Review, and is currently my most cited paper.  It can be downloaded here (or alternatively here).  It was the first study to characterise the surface coldpools of these events at all phases of their life cycles. It was also a foundational experience for me as a young scientist thanks to my excellent supervisor (thank you Dave!).

 


#2: MESOCALE MODELLING WITH WRF

From 2007-2008, I worked with one of the earlier versions of the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF).  Collaborating with another undergraduate student, we were able to hack our way through the users guide and get a daily mesoscale model run for southeastern Ohio.  We then used this model to complete several case studies focused on fast-moving, late season cold fronts which generate vigorous squall lines in the region.  It was my first experience working with a weather model, and I LOVED it. 

 

A late-season cold front in November 2008, simulated by our Ohio U. mesoscale WRF model.

A late-season cold front in November 2008, simulated by our Ohio U. mesoscale WRF model.


#3: supercelLs & Tornadogenesis

Very-high resolution (50m) simulations of a tornado supercell.  Purple lines are reflectivity, grey-scale shading the oufflow and color coding indicates vertical vorticity.

During the first two years of my Master's degree, prior to my big switch to solar, I worked with Dr. Ming Xue, head of the Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (CAPS).  In that position, we used the ARPS model to simulate tornado supercells at very high resolution (50m).  These simulated supercells generated tornado-like vortices.  My job was to trace back trajectories of the air panels which originate in these vortices.  By doing so, I could calculate the vorticity budgets of these parcels, which allowed me to determine that tornadoes are effectively a refocusing of environmental vorticity into a single, very intense rotation.

Vorticity, velocity and thermodynamic analysis along parcel trajectories.

Back trajectories initialised at 9450s (0:25 in the above video); trajectories display origins in the upper forward flank of the thunderstorm.


#4: VORTEX2 Field Campaign

Our Vortex2 Radar Crew with one of our radars: The Mobile Phased Array "MWR". At far left is tornado renowned tornado researcher Dr. Howard "Howie Cb" Bluestein

Our Vortex2 Radar Crew with one of our radars: The Mobile Phased Array "MWR". At far left is tornado renowned tornado researcher Dr. Howard "Howie Cb" Bluestein


Storm Chasing Videos


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