FSU Professor Storm Chasing in Oklahoma When Tornado Hit


An FSU professor was in Oklahoma on a storm-chasing expedition with graduate students when the tornado struck May 20.

This aerial photo shows the remains of homes hit by a massive tornado in Moore, Okla., Monday May 20, 2013. A tornado roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (AP Photo/Steve Gooch)

By: Lanetra Bennett
May 23, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Storm chasers from from our area say they set out for Oklahoma last week when they noticed a stormy weather pattern occurring there.

FSU Professor James Elsner and three of his graduate students drove to Oklahoma last Friday.

Elsner says there were indications the weather would be volatile in Oklahoma and Kansas, but, says he never imagined the devastation Monday's tornado in Moore, Oklahoma caused.

He says his group had decided to chase farther south just before the storm hit.

Elsner says, "We saw on radar just an hour drive from us the storm form. As it was developing, I told my students, this looks really bad for Oklahoma City."

Elsner, an expert on climate and weather, is developing a statistical model for predicting tornado activity in the central Plains.

He teaches a “storm chasers” course that focuses on the historical record of tornadoes and how chasers influence these records with their reports.

The class also is examining the relationship between climate and tornadoes.


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