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MULTIMEDIA: MU atmospheric science students pursue tornado chases

Monday, April 30, 2012 | 2:59 p.m. CDT; updated 7:37 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 1, 2012

COLUMBIA — The Mizzou Storm Chase Team, a group of atmospheric science students who study severe weather, chased their first tornado of their 2012 season in mid-April.

Jordan Bell, senior and co-chairman of the team, led the team during the chase. Bell has been studying and chasing tornadoes for four years. Originally from Sedalia, he is pursuing atmospheric science to understand and perhaps see the powerful storms that plague the Midwestern plains.

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Bell, along with his co-chairs Hayden Oswald and Brett Williams, are responsible for educating all of the chasers on the dangers and procedure of studying tornadoes up close and personal.

Williams led the chase team during the three-day expedition, which began before dawn April 12 when the first of three cars left Columbia for Norman, Okla. During the chase, the team covered hundreds of miles of highway and county roads from Oklahoma to Kansas to Nebraska and back to Columbia.

On April 14, just before sunset, the team spotted a rotating wall cloud that produced a textbook wedge tornado. Speeding along highways parallel to the tornado's path of destruction, the chase team members snapped photos and recorded their first tornado experience of the year.

This tornado, initially rated as an EF4, finally dissipated in a beautiful rope of clouds after half an hour of chasing.


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