Thursday, May 25, 2017

Closing Thoughts by Major

SWIFT was a training that I had wanted to do before I came to the Academy. I was so excited when I saw the email saying I was accepted. I went into the training open-minded and hoping for the best. I knew that tornados were extremely rare, so I was setting myself up to not be disappointed. When we saw 3 tornadoes the second chase day, I was so excited! It was an incredible experience to see the power of a tornado so close! We learned about the atmosphere in a deeper way than we ever had before. It stretched my intellectual curiosity to think about why the processes that control atmospheric dynamics occur. I look forward to learning more about meteorology and focusing on it in the oceanography major more. Spending time with all the other mids was great too. We made some great friendships and learned a lot from each other. The two weeks traveling the country were great and will be lifelong memories for me!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Closing Thoughts by Shannon

Hello everyone! Wow. . . SWIFT was a whirl-wind adventure! The long hours spent on the road traveling through eleven different states were not futile as our total tornado count was four, with some count variation between each SWIFT member. Not only did I observe four beautiful tornadoes, but I also now have an increased understanding of tornadogenesis, the required environmental conditions necessary to produce a tornado, and the difference between a healthy and unhealthy supercell thunderstorm. While our first tornado has a special place in my heart and had an eerie resemblance to the tornado from the movie Twister, the visually appealing look and obvious rotation of the supercell from our first chase day was one of my favorite SWIFT moments. After having Professor Barrett and LCDR Burich explain the process multiple times, the connections were made between the textbook teaching and real-life experience quicker than I would have thought. As we close up our journey and begin our trek back to Annapolis, I  believe my teammates and I have an increased confidence in our ability to identify and explain updraft/downdraft, inflow/outflow, vertical wind shear, and other aspects of supercells. The entire SWIFT experience exceeded my expectations and I could not have imagined a better group to have experienced it with! (:


Closing thoughts by Greg

With our final chase day behind us, we have begun to inch ourselves closer to Annapolis every day. Today we are visiting the Dallas/Fort Worth and paying a visit to International Exotic Animal Sanctuary. Throughout the two weeks of SWIFT I have gained an increased respect for the power and aesthetic brilliance of severe weather. We were fortunate enough to see 5(some say 6) tornadoes over our 7 chase days. We all learned a lot and made a few friends along the way. Whether we were running from hail cores or fleeing the wrath of Sheila, we all had smiles on our faces and generally positive attitudes! After many days of postponing our Twister/watermelon party we are excited to be able to critique the film with actual scientific knowledge.
Overall SWIFT 2017 was a success and I truly enjoyed opportunity to experience severe weather up close!

Closing Thoughts by Keely

SWIFT was an absolute blast! From escaping hail to watching a tornado lazily spin through an open field, the entire experience was invaluable. Pictures in a classroom can only teach you so much, and being able to get out into the middle of all of it is unmatched. I got to see much of the dry desert I'm accustomed to in a new light (usually the unnatural green light of a supercell) and explore some of the landscape I never knew was right at on my doorstep. Having never really been on any sort of family roadtrip, the entire program was a new experience for me. The beauty of a supercell cannot be captured in a picture; the life cycle from a small cumulonimbus to a rotating mass took my breath away. The hours driving were long and the time for sleep was short, but I wouldn't have expected anything less.

Closing thoughts by Ally

SWIFT has definitely been the amazing and unique experience I thought it was going to be! Over these past two weeks, I have learned so much more than I ever thought I could, not only about weather, but also leadership and teamwork. Having the opportunity to apply what we learned in meteorology class, as well as the outside learning we did to prepare for the trip, was an extremely valuable experience that I am very grateful for! Learning everything from how to read models and radar, to how to look up into the sky and point out the areas of rotation and updraft has been an experience like no other. On top of the incredible learning experience, working alongside an awesome group of mids lead to memories that will last a lifetime! It is sad to see SWIFT coming to an end this year, however I am excited to take what I have learned and continue on learning more about meteorology, alongside an incredible group of friends!

Closing thoughts by Darby

SWIFT was a great experience for me, and I really enjoyed these past 2 weeks of storm chasing.  It was fun and I learned a lot more than I expected.  Having only taken one semester of meteorology, my knowledge of severe weather was small.  I didn't really understand how a tornado formed and what environmental parameters are needed for this process to occur.  However, I can now say that after these 2 weeks, my knowledge of supercell and tornado formation has grown exponentially, and I now have a firm grasp on this process.  It was really cool to apply what I had been learning in the classroom this past semester.  Being able to visually see the whole tornado formation process was very important to my understanding of tornadoes.  I really enjoyed this experience and am sad that it is coming to an end!

Closing thoughts by Colin

As I write this post, our chasing days are over for SWIFT 2017, and we are slowly making our way back towards Annapolis through the Dallas/Fort Worth area. This year's SWIFT was once again an amazing time spent with 8 other people, and we had quite a variety of experiences, everything from hiking up to the highest point in Oklahoma to seeing 3 or 4 tornadoes. This trip definitely lived up to my expectations, and in many ways exceeded them.

Throughout SWIFT, I gained a better appreciation for severe weather and the difficulty of forecasting it. Especially as compared to last year, I improved a lot in my understanding and use of radar products to track storms and choose the best storm to follow, as well as how to delegate roles and responsibilities to the other 6 Midshipmen in the van. I also enjoyed learning about and actually getting to climb around in a National Weather Service radome to see where some of the products we use to chase storms actually come from. Overall, SWIFT 2017 was a great time spent with great people, and has left me with a ton of awesome memories that make this trip one of the highlights of my Naval Academy time!