Thursday, May 22, 2014

Chasers get remembered....SWIFTers never die...

After a thrilling two weeks, SWIFT is sadly coming to a close. The knowledge we all have gained through this experience is incredible.

The highlight of SWIFT for me personally was the last chase day. I was the weather lead and Doctor Barrett let me ride shotgun. I had the best seat in the van and I was able to help make all the calls (where/what to chase). I must say I felt a little bit of the pressure that Doctor Barrett felt during all of our chase days. The storms we chased that day didn't produce a tornado but it was still my favorite day. It was a truly awesome way to end SWIFT.

Coming in to this internship I honestly had no clue how or why tornadoes formed. I knew there had to be a super cell and somehow a tornado came out of it. I now know a lot more on the weather conditions needed to produce super cells and tornadoes. I can look up to the sky and pick out the updraft and the downdraft part of a storm. I am the only one in my family with any interest in weather and so it is nice now that I can actually talk intelligent on different weather phenomenon. Some of the things I learned include how to pick a chase location. The most important places to look at are boundary positions (dry line/triple point). Its a pretty cool feeling to know that any day this summer I can check a few websites and radar models and give a good estimate as to what locations will be favorable for super cell formations and tornadoes.

Great leadership was the key to our more successful chase days. Each of us were weather and logistics lead multiple times and we definitely learned the most on those days. I was logistics lead on the first day and I quickly learned how hard being a lead would be if I was unprepared. Thankfully I had a cool team behind me and within a few minutes things were running smoothly. Logistics lead was a more tedious job and it really took the whole team to keep things flowing. Weather lead was more exciting, especially on chase days and with so many things to keep and eye on (SPC updates/surface conditions/hrrr) it was easy to keep the whole team engaged. When I was lead for both teams I knew that it would take a team effort to be successful, no one guy or girl could do it alone.

SWIFT was every thing I imagined and then some. Every day brought new and fun experiences. We saw two tornadoes, one inch hail, and great super cellular structures. Even on are down days we had fun, from seeing movies to playing home run derby in the pool. It was my dream to chase tornadoes and finally got to live it, I can't wait for more opportunities like this.

Lawrence "Wall Cloud" Wilson III

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