As rain saturated the state last week, most eyes across Nebraska looked up to the skies and asked “when will it end?” Last Tuesday, a group of Nebraska college students in Kansas looked up to the skies and asked “when will it begin?”
Undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying Meteorology crammed themselves into vehicles last Tuesday, April 26, armed with their knowledge and cell phones, and headed south in search of severe weather. Among those 20 students was Elgin’s Regan Kerkman.
“The Nebraska Storm Chase Team is a meteorology club made up of mostly UNL students,” Kerkman told The Elgin Review on Sunday evening. The club allows students to gain valuable first-hand, in-the-field experience with storms. The club includes students ranging from freshmen to graduate students, working almost as a safety net. Kerkman did say that, prior to the trip, all the students going on the chase had a mandatory safety briefing.
As Kerkman discovered, the graduate students are a bit more familiar with the conditions they would likely encounter. The group was able to avoid any damage from hail associated with these storms due to their expertise.
“Students volunteered to drive,” he said. One would expect some “beaten up” cars would be the mode of transportation but not so. “The person (that drove) actually had a pretty nice car. The upper classmen know more about the storms, like in the storm cell where the hail is and so they do a pretty good job of staying out of the hail.”
The team went as far south as Junction City, KS. While the particular weather system they were following didn’t produce a significant storm, it did provide an adrenaline rush for the students.
“It was pretty exciting getting to go on my first chase,” Kerkman explained. “I’ve stayed at home and watched clouds go by but I’ve never actually chased a storm.”
Although the team didn’t view a tornado touch down, on the way back to Nebraska, near Belleville, KS, they did witness some activity.
“At the end of the day, we saw some debris starting to spin up on the ground and so that got pretty exciting, that got the adrenaline going some,” he said.
For the complete story, see the print edition of The Elgin Review