Experts available to discuss tornadoes

Scientists working to improve tornado forecasting and risk communication

Apr 11, 2024 - by Audrey Merket

As tornado season ramps up, scientists at the U.S. National Science Foundation National Center for Atmospheric Research (NSF NCAR) are available to talk with journalists about issues such as: 

  • How tornadoes form and develop 
  • Relationship between supercell thunderstorms and tornadoes
  • Methods for modeling and predicting tornadoes
  • Strategies for improved communication of tornado risks to the public 

Manda Chasteen, NSF NCAR Postdoctoral Fellow,

Chasteen’s research focuses on the modeling and predictability of severe convective weather events, such as tornadoes. She works with numerical weather prediction models, including the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) and the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS). Chasteen has participated in field campaigns that studied thunderstorms and supercells. She has also published two papers on the 2011 Super Outbreak, one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks ever recorded. 

Julie Demuth, NSF NCAR Scientist,

A social scientist, Demuth has a hybrid background in atmospheric science and communication. She seeks to integrate social science research with meteorological research. Her research centers on hazardous weather risk communication, risk perceptions, and responses. As part of this research, Demuth explores perspectives on probabilistic tornado warnings and collects data via different methods to understand people's evolving risk assessments as tornado threats unfold. 

Richard Rotunno, NSF NCAR Senior Scientist,

Rotunno studies severe weather such as tornadoes, supercell thunderstorms, squall lines, hurricanes, and more. He’s an expert in modeling meteorological phenomena and working on fluid-dynamics problems in the models to help produce accurate forecasts. Rotunno is available to discuss the fundamental physics of tornadoes and supercell thunderstorms. 

Ryan Sobash, NSF NCAR Scientist,

Sobash's research is focused on improving the understanding and prediction of high-impact convective weather events, including hailstorms, tornado outbreaks, and damaging wind gusts. He is currently using machine learning methods and high-resolution numerical weather prediction models to produce cutting-edge predictions of these events at lead times of hours to days into the future. Sobash is also interested in new ways to visualize and convey forecast information to forecasters and end users, including the development of interactive web-based interfaces for convective weather forecasts.

Morris Weisman, NSF NCAR Senior Scientist,

Weisman was one of the first scientists to use computers to model thunderstorms and tornadoes. His research focuses on the dynamics and classification of convective storms, both from a research and forecasting perspective. He is working on advancing the capabilities of new convective-resolving forecast models and high-resolution ensembles with the goal of improving 0-48 hour forecasts of significant and hazardous weather. Weisman has been a frequent visiting professor at the University at Albany, where he taught a graduate level course called “Convective Storm Dynamics and Forecasting.”

Matthew Wilson, NSF NCAR Postdoctoral Fellow, 

Wilson’s work focuses on using observations from drones to improve forecasts of hazardous weather, including severe storms and tornadoes. His research interests include understanding how small-scale features in supercell thunderstorm environments influence storm evolution and examining how dual-polarization radar signatures differ between tornadic and nontornadic storms and across different environments. He has participated in severe storms fieldwork since 2018, including the Targeted Observations by Radars and UAS of Supercells (TORUS) project.

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