Colleen McHugh's blog

Rutgers Students on the Prowl for Tornadoes

August 25, 2014 - 12:48pm -- Colleen McHugh

Storm Chasing Photo 2

From May 28 to June 10, 2014, 15 aspiring meteorologists from Rutgers University headed on a journey to the central US on the hunt for tornadoes. This trip was a Rutgers course designed to teach students how to forecast severe weather, and actually witness severe storms first hand, with the possibility of seeing a tornado. Tornado chasing popularity has been on the rise because of popular TV shows like Discovery Channel’s “Storm Chasers” and the 1996 movie “Twister.” The media portrays storm chasing as a thrilling adventure, filming scientists and weather enthusiasts that often become overwhelmed by the atmosphere around them. I can personally say that storm chasing can provide an adrenaline rush. However, for meteorologists and students there is also scientific legitimacy behind these chases. Severe thunderstorm and tornado field research is essential in order to gather data to better understand these storms and, ultimately, to save lives. For our class, we were concerned about accurately forecasting, heading out with nothing but a link to radar and a handheld anemometer/thermometer.

Climatology Opportunities at Rutgers as an Undergrad

April 19, 2014 - 2:32pm -- Colleen McHugh

New Brunswick Weather Station Photo

There are many weather- and climate-related opportunities for undergraduate meteorology majors at Rutgers. One opportunity available to undergraduates is to become a student observer at the Cooperative observing station at the Rutgers Gardens. Each morning, one student heads to the gardens at 7 or 8 AM, a rather ridiculous hour for college students, and takes measurements at the station. These measurements include the high and low temperatures over the past 24 hours, soil temperature at different depths, evaporation rate, precipitation, and snowfall and snow depth, if applicable. After recording these measurements, they are sent in to the National Weather Service and stored by the National Climatic Data Center as a part of the climatological database for New Brunswick. Taking observations is not only important from a meteorological perspective, but also from a climatological one to create averages over a long period of time.

Atypical Snow Pattern during March

April 4, 2014 - 4:23pm -- Colleen McHugh

Snow map from March 16-17, 2014

Depending on where you live in New Jersey, this past month could have been extremely winter-like, or on the other hand, extremely not. March marks the beginning of meteorological spring, however the atmosphere had something different in mind. March bought several winter storms to South Jersey, while North and Central Jersey had close to no snowfall. Living in Central Jersey, the beginning to meteorological spring was less than ideal for snow lovers, with cold temperatures and essentially no snow to go along with it. This being said, the southern part of the state (comprised of Burlington, Ocean, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland, Atlantic, and Cape May counties) had an atypically snowy March with an average of 11.8 inches of snow, while its neighbors in the central and north had 0.4 and 0.1 inches, respectively.

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