Microlight meteorology students make observations before thunderstorms in the field

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MONROE, La. (KNOE) – A group of ULM meteorology students are tracking the storm as it moves toward Alabama. ULM senior Jacob Zeringue said there is nothing more exciting than being out in the field before a storm.

Zeringue said this severe weather event gives them a chance to see what they learned in the classroom, in the environment.

“Yeah, it’s really exciting because I was involved in field research before my freshman year and eventually helped out with the weather service. It’s really cool,” said Zeringue.

He said they were making observations and collecting data in Demopolis, Alabama, and launching weather balloons every hour.

“We are sampling the environment before violent squall lines in hopes of collecting data for tornadic squall lines,” Zeringue said.

A squall line is the storm line. Zeringue said they traveled in the ULM lidar truck in search of the perfect recipe for what constitutes a tornado. The lidar sends out a laser beam every five minutes that tracks particles in the atmosphere so they can collect wind speed and direction at different heights.

“We are looking for wind shear, how wind shear develops before squall lines; specifically tornadic squall lines,” Zeringue said.

He said being on the ground before a storm is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“The rush we really get comes from launching balloons. Closer to when the storms are coming, the adrenaline starts to kick in,” Zeringue said.

The data they collect will help the National Weather Service improve its tornado research and warnings.

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