A storm spotter and writer living in southwest Virginia, my interest in weather over the past two decades has grown from occasional hobby to full-blown fascination.
My goal in this website is to share what I’ve learned about different kinds of weather and the people who work so hard to forecast it. Through extensive research and first-hand experience, I look for answers to questions about how to stay safe in severe weather, how weather forecasts are made, what storm chasers do, and what we should all know and learn (and enjoy!) about what happens above.
Why severe weather? My fascination began in 1986 when, as a twelve-year-old, I looked up from my lunch with my Girl Scout troop to see a waterspout skimming the Great Salt Lake in my native Utah. I didn’t know it at the time, but it sparked what would become an intense love affair with the skies.
I’m working with the National Weather Service to learn more about the complex process operational meteorologists go through to create the forecasts we see on the evening news. And I’ve learned that predicting the weather, with all its uncertainty, is no simple task. It involves a great deal of time and skill and a commitment to the public they serve.
When I can, I join a Virginia Tech storm chase group comprised mainly of geography students learning to forecast weather themselves. With them, I have tracked storms across the country for over 13,000 miles—from Illinois to Colorado, Nebraska to Texas—and intercepted nearly a dozen tornadoes all told. These experiences have taught me that there is still much to learn about how to create resilience in our communities and what methods and means of weather warnings work best for different kinds of publics. Together, my work provides the basis for much of my writing, which has been published in both regional and national journals.
For over fifteen years, I have chased storms, worked with meteorologists of different kinds, and offered classes to the community and local elementary schools on weather-related topics. Currently, I’m a Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech in the Science and Technology Studies program where my research explores sociological, technical, and policy issues within meteorology. I also have an M.F.A. in nonfiction from Goucher College, am a Skywarn Weather Spotter, and an avid naturalist. As always, my research leaves me feeling awe-struck by the power of the atmosphere to shape our lives.