Spring  (March) 2001 
UNL Student AMS Chapter 
Field Trip to Oklahoma

Norman, OK
Storm Prediction Center
National Severe Storms Laboratory
Oklahoma University Meteorology Dept.

Moore, Oklahoma
May 3, 1999 Tornado damage & rebuilding

Wichita, KS
Weather Data Inc.

14 UNL AMS Chapter Meteorology students traveled to Oklahoma during Spring Break.

We thank the following for their assistance with our UNL-AMS Student Chapter Spring 2001 tour:
Peggy Stogsdill, Administrative Officer, SPC; Dan McCarthy, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, SPC; Greg Grosshans, Software Analyst, SPC; Daphne Zaras, Research Meteorologist at NSSL; Steve Easley, Vice President at Weather Data, Inc., Wichita, KS, and Dr. Norm Smith, Chair, UNL Geosciences for his financial assistance.

Freezing rain coated all of the trees and icy residential streets greeted 
us on the morning of our departure.
The faculty sponsor, Professor Dewey drove 8 of the students in a UNL van 
and 6 other students drove in two separate cars to Norman, OK.
When we arrived in Norman, we stayed at the Residence Inn.  it was in the mid-70's.  
Here two of our winter weary students are soaking up some warm sunshine! 
The lawns were green and trees were beginning to leaf out so it was 
quite a contrast from the frozen landscape of Nebraska.
The Residence Inn had a clubhouse where we could meet as a group.  
They provided us with a free breakfast each day and snacks in the evening. 
One of the highlights of the trip was the opportunity for the students to meet 
informally as a group to talk about their experiences on the field trip and of 
course to talk about the weather!
March  2001
UNL AMS Chapter Trip to Oklahoma
Our first tour was at the National Severe Storm Laboratory (NSSL)  in Norman, OK.  Here you see 14 of our UNL AMS students prior to our tour.  Note the address, 1313, is that good or bad luck?
The Storm Prediction Center, which handles severe weather forecasting for the entire U.S. is located within the NSSL facility.
Dan McCarthy, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at SPC was our first tour guide and gave the students an overview of the SPC daily activities.  He also described some of the past forecast situations including the infamous May 3, 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak.

READ MORE ABOUT THE SPC at their web site: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/misc/aboutus.html

UNL graduate Greg Grosshans then joined us and described to the students his career path following graduation in 1990 from the UNL met. program.  He also described his current duties at SPC which include development of forecast computer software.

CLICK HERE or on the above photo 
to see a large photo of the SPC facility.
CLICK HERE or on the above photo 
to see a large photo of the SPC facility.
The inside of the SPC facility consists basically of 4 different work areas. 
Unlike years ago when all their forecast information had to go out via
teletype and was delayed because of that, there is instant communications 
now via their computer workstations.
Note the pens and paper.  YES, there is still a need for hand analysis, 
we cannot totally just rely on the computer!
The students then met with Daphne Zaras, research meteorologist at NSSL.  She outlined the research mission of NSSL and showed a video highlighting some of the storm related research projects conducted at NSSL.  She handed out some posters and information sheets which highlighted the public safety issues of severe storms.
READ MORE ABOUT THE NSSL at their web site:
After one of Lincoln's longest and most persistent Winters, it was nice to experience weather that was warm enough to sit and eat outside!
Our group was invited back after lunch to observe the SPC staff in their daily weather discussion.  This was an excellent opportunity for the students to observe how the forecasters determined what areas of the country to monitor for potential severe weather over the upcoming 24 hours.  The students also had an opportunity to listen in as they reviewed the severe weather events that had occurred in the previous 24 hours.
Following the weather briefing, we headed over to the University of Oklahoma, 
School of Meteorology.
Oklahoma University, School of Meteorology.

We visited with the Director of the School of Meteorology, Dr. Fred Carr, their graduate, Celia Jones,  who is their Coordinator for  Academic Student Services and some graduate students in their meteorology lab.  The top 4 floors of the Sarkey Energy tower, shown below, house the School of Meteorology.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE OU School of Meteorology at their web site:

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE OU School of Meteorology AMS Student Chapter:
The meteorology lab is located on the 14th floor of the Sarkey Energy Tower.
This is the view looking southwest from the Meteorology lab.
CLICK HERE or on the above photo 
to see a larger photo of this view.
This is the view looking west from the Meteorology lab.
CLICK HERE or on the above photo 
to see a larger photo of this view.
On our way out of Norman, OK, we stopped in Moore, OK to inspect the damage path of the famous May 3, 1999 F-5 tornado and to view the rebuilding efforts.
We took this photograph just a few hundred yards east of the Shields Street overpass and I-35.  Empty lots, driveways leading no where and a few new homes dot the landscape.
The houses in the distance were repaired and have new roofs.  In the foreground, the houses were completely destroyed and only cement slabs remain with utility pipes sticking above the slabs.   Throughout the area, it was obvious that there was a narrow transition zone between total destruction and only minor damage caused by the tornado.
Its a 7 hour drive and one of the ways the students passed time was playing cards.
And some of the students got caught up on their sleep!
Our final stop on our Spring Break Tour was Weather Data Inc., in Wichita, KS
Weather Data Inc., is run by Mike Smith, a graduate of the 
OU School of Meteorology and is a 20 year old company.
Vice President of business operations, Steve Easley, took 
the group on the tour of the forecast center.
The company produces weather pages for many newspapers 
across the country and the person here is putting the finishing 
touches on one of these weather pages which was then sent 
directly to the newspaper for their printing press.
The forecast center, seen here, operates 24 hours and 7 days a week.
The weather continued to be pleasant so we stepped outside to the 
balcony and we talked with Steve about applied climatology and 
applied meteorology job opportunities.
For many people, the first robin means its spring.  For these students, its the first cumulus cloud spotted as we approach the Nebraska border!

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