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​Severe Weather Symposium helps spread the science behind the weather

Ohio’s Severe Weather Awareness week kicks off this weekend, but students at The Ohio State University are getting prepared ahead of time.

The Ohio State Meteorology Club hosted the 22nd Annual Severe Weather Symposium last week at the Ohio Union. The symposium brings together meteorologists from all across the country and from many different aspects of meteorology to deliver presentations and interact with students interested in the field.

“I think [the symposium] is really important, just the fact that we get the professionals in here with the students. It is a really tight-knit group of professionals,” said Meteorology Club President Justin Solze, a fourth-year atmospheric sciences major.

Guest speakers included Cory Mottice, forecaster for the National Weather Service office in Cleveland; Jeff Logsdon, science and operations officer for NWS Northern Indiana; and WTVG Chief Meteorologist Jay Berschback.

Experts discussed severe weather issues ranging from an unusual outbreak of tornados in Ohio in 2017 to the impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

A graphic highlights a powerful tornado over Ohio

Logsdon focused his discussion on two issues: a powerful tornado that crossed 39 miles of Indiana and Ohio, and historic flooding that ravaged Indiana last summer. He hoped his presentation encouraged students to consider meteorology and to spend time in the field when they are doing their job.

“Hopefully [my presentation] gives them a taste for what it’s like to be in a severe weather operation at the National Weather Service,” he said. “I think the other benefit is the value of doing these storm damage surveys and the chance to get out there and see what this damage is and get a feel for the meteorology and tying it to structural damage.”

Solze said the interaction between students and professionals can pay dividends.

“It’s really good for students to network and get in on those internships early. I worked with the weather service over the summer and I probably wouldn’t have been able to do that if it wasn’t for this event. So I think it’s just really helpful for the students to get that connection.”

The connection is mutually beneficial. Logsdon said speaking to students also helps him professionally.

“It’s always interesting to talk to students that are interested in this type of thing,” he said. “And that sort of keeps my juices flowing and energized to keep doing this.”