Central Oregon–According to a description provided by The Great Courses, The Science of Extreme Weather serves as our field guide to the worst that Earth’s atmosphere can inflict. In 24 exciting, informative, and potentially life-saving half-hour lectures aimed at weather novices and amateur forecasters alike, viewers gain a surprisingly powerful tool in the face of such overwhelming forces: knowledge.
Escorted by meteorologist, storm chaser, and award-winning teacher Eric R. Snodgrass of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, attendees learn the fundamental science that underlies blizzards, flash floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, and more.
Illustrated with beautifully rendered graphics, stunning storm images, and entertaining demonstrations of meteorological principles, The Science of Extreme Weather teaches students to think like meteorologists. In search of potentially life-threatening conditions, viewers learn to interpret clues in the sky and the significance of temperature, pressure, humidity, and wind direction and speed. Simple and practical forecasting rules—such as that falling air pressure signals stormy weather and rising air pressure herald clear skies—will suddenly make perfect sense.
In addition, members will be enlightened about widespread extreme weather myths, such as that lightning never strikes twice in the same place, or that a ditch or an underpass are safe refuges if you are caught in the open near a tornado. Spectators will be alerted to some truly ominous warning signs, including lightning, flooding and heat, and humidity.
Raised in the heart of Tornado Alley, the region of the U.S. with the most tornadoes of anyplace on the planet, professor Snodgrass has long been fascinated with the supercell thunderstorms that sweep across the plains, spawning tornadoes when a precise combination of meteorological factors coincides. This interest led him to become a scientist and storm chaser—a cautious stalker of extreme weather, using the tools of his discipline to decipher what makes dangerous storms form. Each year, he leads more than 1,500 University of Illinois students through a course focused on severe and hazardous weather.
In The Science of Extreme Weather, this exuberant meteorologist and gifted educator takes observers on a virtual expedition into the heart of the world’s wildest weather, investigating the mechanisms behind storms such as tornadoes, tropical cyclones, and lake-effect snow falls.
All of these extremes may make it seem that our planet is barely survivable. But as professor Snodgrass points out, we thrive on Earth. Even as the population of the globe continues to increase, fewer and fewer people are dying from extreme weather. The credit goes to improved forecasting tools along with more accurate computer models that weigh the countless data points that represent the ever-changing atmosphere. As a result, it is rare for a severe weather event to catch meteorologists by surprise.
After watching The Science of Extreme Weather, members will come away with newfound appreciation and respect for the atmosphere’s most awe-inspiring phenomena.
This study group will be held each Thursday—except for holidays— through February.