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Chasing the storm

April 11, 2014

Photo of a storm watcherFor storm chasers, the coming of spring means one thing: tornadoes.

Recent tornado-related disasters have led experts to wonder how climate change is affecting the frequency and intensity of these destructive storms.

At the next STEM Café, NIU STEM Outreach will present “Chasing the Storm: Tornadoes in a Warming World.” This free presentation and discussion with the audience will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, at O’Leary’s Restaurant and Pub, 260 E Lincoln Hwy in DeKalb.

Storm chaser, meteorologist and physical geographer Walker Ashley will lead a discussion on tornadoes, climate change, and strategies for survival in severe weather. Ashley is an associate professor of meteorology in the NIU Department of Geography. His research examines the meteorology and climatology of severe storms, human mortality due to weather hazards, the influences of cities on thunderstorm formation and how weather affects fatal motor vehicle crashes.

During the STEM Café, Ashley will share the latest research on the role of climate change in severe weather and explore common myths about tornadoes, such as the ideas that tornadoes never strike cities, tornadoes don’t cross rivers and tornadoes are attracted to mobile homes. He also will talk about how amateur weather watchers can train to become weather spotters or even participate in storm chases.

Photo of a tornado

This event is part of NIU STEM Outreach’s series of monthly STEM Cafés. The events are free and open to the public. Food and drinks are available for purchase from the host restaurant.

The STEM Café series is just one of STEM Outreach’s many engaging events to increase public awareness of the critical role that STEM fields play in today’s rapidly changing world. Learn more about STEM Cafés and other events at or by contacting Judith Dymond at (815) 753-4751 or [email protected].