Meteorology graduate student dishes on Doppler on Wheels

By Bryan Holman, Research Assistant – Meteorology

Holman family photo at a recent wedding
Holman family photo at a recent wedding

I grew up a severe weather enthusiast.  Why?  I have no idea.  On my 12th birthday I went and saw Twister in theaters.  Since that day I told my family that if I had the opportunity and wasn’t married, I’d become a storm chaser.  Demand for that job is incredibly high, and I did end up getting married (and have two great kids!), so spending months at a time in the MidWest chasing tornadoes simply would not fit into my life right now.  To me, that is why having the Doppler on Wheels (DOW) here on campus was so special.

Doppler on Wheels rolls to town

There are thousands of weather enthusiasts in this country, and only two DOWs. The educational outreach funded by the National Science Foundation gives students all over the country a little taste of the thrilling life of a storm-chaser.  I cannot stress how unique an opportunity it was to have the DOW here.  The entire experience was exhilarating. Imagine it, getting to wake up

Doppler on Wheels
Got to go to the Melbourne National Weather Service this morning to talk about today’s forecast. Looks like a possibility of some light showers in the afternoon here at Florida Tech, but most of the lightning and heavy rain will be from Orlando to Daytona

early to head over to the National Weather Service in town (which is also rare) and be a part of the forecasting experience for the day and putting my weather knowledge to the test in the field, then getting to brief the rest of the team and spend an afternoon deploying multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art equipment to gaze at thunderstorms!?

The experience, in part, was a dream come true.  I’m so thankful that I get to do my Doctorate experience at a smaller, private university where the professors put in the extra time to make experiences like these happen for their students.  I doubt I’ll get an opportunity to be this involved in severe weather data collection for the rest of my life, so I greatly cherish the time I had when the DOW was here.

DOW Data

Moreover, we are now beginning to analyze the tens of gigabytes of data that we collected when the DOW was here.  We have access to high-resolution radar data that nobody else has, and we have been set up into teams of graduate students and undergraduate students to push the science of radar meteorology forward.

Doppler on Wheels
Awesome crew of meteorologists

Simply put, having the DOW here is an experience any weather enthusiast dreams about, and I got to enjoy it first-hand.

Doppler on Wheels
Ph. D student Jeff Colvin in the command chair of the DOW. Looking at some high resolution scans of a thunderstorm near Orlando











Doppler on Wheels

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