Web Site Shows Daily Tornadoes Across the Country

Released: 16-Jun-2008 4:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: University of Michigan
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Newswise — A Web site developed at the University of Michigan shows where tornados hit the United States each day. At www.tornadopaths.org, visitors can zoom in to see a city, or zoom out to see the entire country.

It's a mashup of data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Google Maps and Google Earth. Perry Samson, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences, is the developer. Samson is an atmospheric scientist who studies air pollution and educational technology but whose hobby is studying extreme weather phenomena including tornadoes. He recently returned from a summer storm-chasing trip with a team of undergraduate students.

"As tornado chasers, it's interesting for us to know where the storms have been and have a record of them," Samson said. "This Web site is another way for those interested in weather to get a sense for what's going on."

The site updates automatically every 10 minutes. It's always possible that there could be nothing on the screen, Samson said. That would mean no tornados hit on that particular day.

During this year's storm-chasing trip, Samson and his students gathered data from eight supercell storms---more than they've ever recorded. He describes the events as "not for the faint of heart."

"We weather chasers are different than normal people," he said. "We want to be there. It should not be taken lightly or considered a spectator sport."

For more information on Samson, visit:
www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/public/experts/ExpDisplay.php?ExpID=1275
Tornado Paths: www.tornadopaths.org

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