Fort Hays State University to offer first storm-chasing class

Dr. P. Grady Dixon took this photo of a storm-chasing class in south-central Colorado in May 2010. (Courtesy Photo: Fort Hays State University)

HAYS, Kansas – The Fort Hays State University Department of Geosciences will offer the first FHSU course on storm-chasing during the summer 2015 term.

The class will be led by Dr. P. Grady Dixon, department chair, who has been traveling across the Great Plains to observe severe storms since 1998. The course will include a week of virtual-college instruction prior to the 10-day chasing component.

Students will depart Hays on June 6 and return by the evening of June 15. In the days between, they are likely to travel anywhere between Mexico and Canada or the Rocky Mountains and Mississippi River.

The goal for each day is to view the most dramatic storms so that students can learn about the dynamics of thunderstorms, the impacts of severe weather and the geography of the central United States.

“This is a chance to go on an extended storm-chase trip for about one-third the cost of a commercial storm-chasing tour,” said Dixon. “In addition, students will earn three hours of university credit through FHSU.”

The university says student safety is the highest priority, and storms are usually observed from several miles away.

“Some of these storms are so large that even at that distance they can be intimidating,” said Dixon.

The course is limited to eight students, and there is an additional fee to offset the fuel and hotel expenses. Participating students must pay a $450 deposit to the Department of Geosciences by April 1.

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