UNL students seek dark clouds in hopes of finding major storm

By Ryan Pritchard, NewsNetNebraska

The sight of lightning, followed by the crash of thunder, usually prompts people to seek cover indoors, especially when severe weather is forecast.

For meteorology students, though, it’s time go out into the elements to get a closer look.

“The thrill of storm chasing is unmatched by anything else. It is a time for me to see and feel the power of Mother Nature,” said senior meteorology student Chris Payer.

Storm chasing is almost considered a “must” to become a meteorologist.

“It is why I got interested in meteorology in the first place,” sophomore Amber Michael said. “Nebraska has a great program but it is made better by the fact we are in tornado alley which means severe weather is bound to happen.”

Storm chasing is dangerous and is usually left to the professional storm chasers like those found in various television shows on the Weather Channel. But that doesn’t stop a lot of people, especially students, from attempting to storm chase.

“Sure there are some risks but the sights and sounds that can be seen if you get to a major storm are breathtaking,” Michael said.

“You have to know what you are doing because weather is dynamic. This means that even though a storm looks like it is going to happen in one place, it could happen somewhere completely different,” Payer said. “This is extremely dangerous if you don’t know how to read weather because you could find yourself in a dicey situation even when you think you are far enough away.”

“It’s important to take precautions when you go storm chasing. At the very least, I go with someone else just so I’m not alone,” Michael said.

A common sight in cars people use for storm chasing is a CB radio. This allows the storm chaser to listen to weather reports while driving to wherever the storm is set to occur.

When considering whether or not to attempt to storm chase, it is important to understand the risks as well as set your own personal limits.

“Get out and see a storm at least once. After that, you will be hooked,” Payer said.

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