OU Students, Professor Come Back After Collecting Hurricane Data

Sunday, August 27th 2017, 11:09 pm
By: News 9

Some of Oklahoma's own are on their way back from south Texas.

A team of OU weather researchers spent the past few days collecting data on the storm.

The group said they don't think they'll be back home in Norman until after midnight with all the rain, wind and traffic.

After a three-day trip to south Texas, the researchers are heading home, and with a ton of information about Harvey.  

"This is our first major hurricane," said OU graduate student Addison Alford, who was awarded a NASA Fellowship to study hurricanes.

Alford, along with OU meteorology professor Michael Biggerstaff and research scientist Gordon Carrie, spent almost 18 hours in a SMART (Shared Mobile Atmospheric Research and Teaching) radar truck. 

"This is not something you want to do in your own personal minivan," said Biggerstaff.

It's built to withstand severe weather and it did.

They sat about 30 miles from Corpus Christi in between farm fields from Friday afternoon through Saturday morning.

"It's a lot of work; very tiring," Alford said.

"It's pretty cramped, and the air conditioner doesn't work so it's very warm and humid," Biggerstaff said. 

But they said it's all worth it to collect data on the storm's wind and rainfall. 

"This data will then be used to essentially assess what we don't know about land-falling hurricanes," Alford said.

They also took a mobile Mesonet built and operated by research scientist Sean Waugh. 

"We actually drove through the eye wall and launched a weather balloon on the interior of the eye wall," said Alford. 

Biggerstaff said the data will help advance the science of how hurricanes impact coastal regions, and could eventually help weather forecasting.

But for him, it's also about getting outside the classroom.

"This is why I became a professor. I love doing the science, but I love interacting with the students. It is a tremendous honor," said Biggerstaff.

The meteorology professor will have a chance to rest before going back to his students.

His next class is Tuesday morning.