Make no mistake, tornado chasing is a dangerous passion for many meteorologists and researchers. However, they are not the only people who have a passion for scientific discovers as it relates to the weather. People who reside in the famed “tornado alley” region of the United States often experience some of the most wicked weather found anywhere on the earth. This region of the Midwest provides the perfect opportunity for violent weather to erupt, and the people who live in this region are on the front lines.
Citizen scientists who participate in the study of tornado activities often out their lives in danger for the sake of discovery. In many cases it is not a citizens choice, however. Some people people who live in the area enjoy chasing tornados in order to gather data for researchers. These people often follow a storm with a radar which indicates the potential for a tornado to form. Citizen storm chasers then record wind speed, direction and other factors, and they relay this information to the National Weather Center.
When the power is cut off due to severe weather, news stations must rely on reports which come from the effected areas. This is a time when a citizen scientist becomes most useful. Damage assessments as well as the direction of the tornado can be relayed by these scientists to emergency responders and researchers. This allows an adequate warning system to be developed so that future lives can be saved. The information which is gathered can lead to advancements in building construction and safety measures for schools and other buildings.
Storm cellars are common in the Midwest and other regions of the world that experience tornados. The key to their effectiveness, however, comes from the reports of citizen scientists who have experienced them. There is a wealth of information which can be produced from a particularly violent storm. For example, some citizen scientists have reported that the construction of a storm cellar is not enough to prevent the loss of life. The structural integrity of a building must also be taken into account in order to protect people from dangerous weather conditions. This means that developers must be willing to change they build structures as well.
Many citizen storm chasers learn about the destructive power of wind when they place wind instruments outside of their car during a storm chasing sequence. The recorded wind speeds are then relayed to researchers who track the direction that a tornado takes. This allows people in its path to be alerted to the danger before the storm bears down on them. The importance of citizen scientists should never be underestimated. They are often right in the middle of the action, and they put themselves at risk in the name of scientific discovery. They will continue to be an important part of tornado studies.