Over the past several months the Meteorology program at WKU has expanded technological capabilities through grant funding under the diligence of Dr. Josh Durkee and Dr. Eric Rappin. This award went to purchase computer systems, servers, and software upgrades which allowed for the installation of AWIPSII, a highly sophisticated atmospheric analysis and visualization software program created by Unidata. This software is used by the National Weather Service and functions on many different levels between simple surface observations, radar and satellite data, lightning data, and numerical weather prediction analysis. This will enable the WKU meteorology program to offer hands-on training and experience to student looking to enter a very competitive work force upon graduation.
The new platform is housed under the newly coined College Heights Atmospheric Observatory for Students, or CHAOS Meteorology Lab. As a result, its drawing more and more attention to the program, as well as from the National Weather Service in Louisville who is offering seminars to the program in order to gain better understanding to the software’s capabilities.
Over the spring semester, Lead Forecaster Mark Jarvis (NWS Louisville) gave a presentation on AWIPSII to several student within the program:
— CHAOS (@wkuCHAOS) March 21, 2016
A full article courtesy of Dr. Durkee via Unidata’s website can be seen through link here.
An article by WKU News featuring the AWIPSII upgrade can be seen here.
In addition to this expansion it is noteworthy to mention that the meteorology programs freshman level attendance has nearly tripled over the past eight years. In response the higher demands within the program, logistical changes are being made to add another CHAOS lab to furnish more workstations to facilitate the higher number of students. Also, WKU’s Geographic Information Science (GIS) program is now planning to move next door in the EST building. This is a move to allow for the two programs to work more efficiently together and provide more GIS training to meteorology students. Currently the Fall 2016 semester has over 290 students utilizing the CHAOS Lab for their Meteorology 121 class.
In addition to all of the recent technological upgrades to the program, Dr. Josh Durkee has launched a WKU centralized weather information and forecasting service to serve the needs of campus activities for students, and more, called White Squirrel Weather (WSWX for short). This is an exciting new venture for the meteorology pr gram as students and faculty will combine the talents and capabilities of each individual to provide custom weather information for WKU’s needs which include NCAA sporting activites, as well as providing forecasts and consulting during severe weather and winter storms.
Currently WSWX is working to launch their new website and will be available in the next few weeks for anyone interested in seeing a WKU focused weather information platform, which includes on-site weather observation data at EST, and soon to be available at WKU’s Houchens Industries–L. T. Smith Stadium, with future stations also possible.
Follow along as CHAOS and White Squirrel Weather continues to expand, along with the program in general! Social media is a quick way to stay updated and get involved!
- @WKUweather (WSWX)
- @wkuCHAOS (WKU Meteorology)
- @wkustormteam (WKU Storm Team)
- @WarrenCountyWX (WKU StormToppers)
- @wkustormchase (Self explanatory)