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TOP 10 US FIELD TRIPS

METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY

1. Buffalo, N.Y., or other snowbelt Great Lake region to witness lake effect snow

A. Preparation:
*Winter survival kit
*Snow tires/ chains

B. Trip not complete until:
*Seen over a foot of snowfall in one day
*Witnessed snowfall gradient between two cities (mesoscale snowfall maximums)

C. Advantages:
*Every snow lovers dream
*Can witness some of highest snowfall rates on Earth

D. Disadvantages:
*Wind chill and ambient temperature can be quite cold
*Visibility reduced to zero could strand you

2. Near the coast of a landfalling Category 3 Hurricane

A. Preparation:
*Waterproof garments
*Extra gas
*Battery operated radio/TV
*Anemometers

B. Trip not complete until:
*You have been in the eye of one of these hurricanes
*Been in the eyewall of one of these hurricanes
*Felt gusts over 130 miles per hour
*Seen wind direction reverse by 180 degrees

C. Advantages:
*Can feel the "raw" power of the wind
*Can witness incredible rain rates and rain consistency
*See the abrupt change in wind speed from eyewall to calm eye

D. Disadvantages:
*Rain can get old after a while
*Non "weather weenies" think your nuts
*Flooding and downed trees can make driving hazardous

3. Great Plains Storm Chase

A. Preparation:
*Well tuned vehicle
*Battery operated TV/ Radio, laptop computer

B. Trip not complete until:
*You have seen the structure of at least 4 supercells
*Seen a tornado
*Seen hail on the ground greater than golf ball size

C. Advantages:
*Can witness 3-D structure of supercells live
*Many mesoscale temperature and storm structure changes
*Incredible horizontal visibility

D. Disadvantages:
*Can be difficult to find a tornado
*May require excess driving
*Non "weather weenies" think your nuts

4. Nor'easter

A. Preparation:
*Winter survival kit and extra gas
*Battery operated radio/TV
*Snow chains

B. Trip not complete until:
*Witnessed winds with sustained speeds over 50 miles per hour
*Witnessed at least one foot of snowfall and 10 foot snowdrifts

C. Advantages:
*Any snow fans dream
*Incredible snowfall rates, visibility near zero

D. Disadvantages:
*Travel becomes very difficult once storm begins
*Could be stranded for days

5. West Texas Dryline

A. Preparation:
*Access to latest surface observations; weather radio

B. Trip not complete until:
*You have seen the dewpoint drop by more than 30 F in one hour
*Seen blowing dust
*Seen the development of an LP supercell

C. Advantages:
*LP supercells allow you to see the entire structure of the storm
*Extremely flat terrain
*Can research wind, temperature, and moisture changes from one side of the dryline to the other

D. Disadvantages:
*Must have good air conditioner
*Many drylines are weak, only a handful have phenomenal moisture gradients

6. Plains arctic cold front

A. Preparation
*Good heater, winter survival kit
*Good accurate thermometers for temperature change research
*Good barometer for examining pressure changes

B. Trip not complete until:
*You have witnessed the temperature drop by more than 30 F in one hour
*Witnessed the instant of frontal passage (wind speed change, wind direction change, new smell of air, and moisture change)
*Witnessing pressure change as front passes

C. Advantages:
*Watching the rapidity of weather change
*Mesoscale effects of frontal passage

D. Disadvantages:
*Short lived excitement, unless you drive back to the south of frontal boundary and witness its passage again
*Gets very cold shortly after frontal passage
*Only one or two per year have phenomenal temperature gradients from one side of front to other

7. Mississippi River flood

A. Preparation
*Know best places to go for watching river stage changes
*Have some research projects in mind such as calculating discharge

B. Trip not complete until:
*Witnessed damage to low lying areas and flood plain
*Witnessed rise and crest of flood waters
*Understood processes which produced the flood

C. Advantages:
*A new perspective of the economic horrors of river floods

D. Disadvantages:
*Deals more with hydrology than meteorology

8. Microclimates of California in Summer

A. Preparation
*Well tuned vehicle
*Plenty of time
*Camping gear
*Extra cameras and film

B. Trip not complete until:
* You have seen coastal fog roll onshore
* Seen upslope flow in Sierra Nevada
* Visited desert of Southeast California including Death Valley
* Seen the agriculture of the Central Valley
* Measured water temperatures of the Pacific Ocean
* Compared temperatures in front of and behind summer sea breeze fronts

C. Advantages:
*See in real life how ocean currents, mountains, continentality, and ocean temperature shapes the climate and weather of California.
*Great tourism

D. Disadvantages:
*Summertime weather is boring
*Summer extremely hot in deserts

9. Urban Heat Island

A. Preparation:
*City needs to have greater than 1 million population
*Good temperature, humidity and wind sensors
*Must be on day with light wind, clear skies and high pressure inversion

B. Trip not complete until:
*You have compared city to rural daytime and nighttime temperature, wind speed and moisture
*Noticed visibility changes between city and upwind rural areas

C. Advantages:
*Great mesoscale meteorology research

D. Disadvantages:
*Must have several teams in order to take rural and urban weather conditions at the same time for comparative purposes

10. Colorado summertime mountain convection

A. Preparation:
*Hiking gear

B. Trip not complete until:
*You have hiked through Rocky Mountain National Park
*Witnessed upslope fog
*Watched afternoon mountain convection

C. Advantages:
*Incredibly scenic
*Witness orographic influences upon weather

D. Disadvantages:
*You may not want to leave