“Everybody talks about it. Nobody does a thing about it. About what? The weather.”
This once popular jingle may hold true in most cases, but it doesn’t apply to a select group of Valpo meteorology graduates or to VAN member Stephanie Stroman Weiss (VU ’01) and her husband, Christopher.
Currently, Christopher, an Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Science at Texas Tech University, and a cadre of Valpo grads are participating in theVORTEX2 national weather project. VORTEX2, funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is the largest project ever initiated to understand tornadoes. About 100 scientists and crew members, representing universities and government and private organizations from around the world, comprise the VORTEX2 team. Using some 40 science and support vehicles, they are roaming the Great Plains for five weeks this May and June and again in May-June 2010. In effect, the group is trying to do something about the weather--learn more about what causes twisters and how to predict them earlier and more accurately.
Also a meteorology grad, Stephanie earned a masters degree from the University of Oklahoma. She now works for the school as a lightening researcher, usually long distance from her Lubbock, Texas home. Although she chose not to participate in VORTEX2 herself, she checks in regularly at the project’s operations center.
Not surprisingly, storm chases with Professor Bart Wolf rank among Stephanie’s fondest memories of Valpo.
“I learned first-hand how to forecast severe weather, how to identify different storm features, and how hard it can be to decide which storm to chase and which to let go. Seeing a tornado proved to be more difficult than most people imagine,” she recalls.
In a recent visit to Valpo for her sister’s graduation, Stephanie found “places on campus that if put there without context,” she would hardly recognize. But Valpo “felt like a little piece of home.”
“Having spent time on several college campuses as a student or employee,” Stephanie comments, “I always find Valpo so different from other universities. The faculty, staff, alumni, and students are so much more invested in Valpo than those I’ve observed on other campuses. VU is truly a unique and wonderful place, and I am proud to be an alumna!”(The Valpo alumni team members photographed by Stephanie are (from left to right): Alex Gibbs ‘07, Case Letkewicz ‘07, Adam French ‘05, Brian Hirth ‘03, Joel Dreessen ‘07, and Matt Parker ’96. For more information on the project, see www.vortex2.org.)