SFOP designed to study severe weather

By Michelle Esposito

Severe Storms Forecast and Operations Program is a new program beginning at NIU’s Geography Department.

“The Severe Storms Forecast and Operations Program (SSFOP)is an ambitious new program that is designed to benefit the community and the students,” said senior meteorology major Dan Koch.

The program is headed by Dan Koch and his assistant Gilbert Sebenste. Jennifer Haley is in charge of public relations and Amy Gustafson is the field operations coordinator, he added. The new program also includes twenty other students. Most are meteorology majors, Koch said.

The purpose of this program is to follow storms as they’re coming, said Koch. Jennifer Haley, a graduate student and meteorology major said SSFOP helps the National Weather Service in Rockford and Chicago to spot different storms. The program is also for severe weather forecasting and upper air operations, said both Haley and Koch. “Upper air operations is launching weather balloons and analyzing upper atmosphere conditions,” said Koch.

“When the storm is cited, teams are dispatched by pagers,” said Koch. These teams consist of trained students which are on twenty-four hour call, he added.

When the teams chase storms, they go to several different areas, said Haley. Some students have gone as far as Iowa, she added.

To chase these storms the students are currently using their own equipment, said Haley. “Any new communications equipment would belong to the program,” she added.

To get new equipment for the SSFOP, Koch said they are currently doing fund raisers. The fund raisers include sending letters to alumni to get donations and also distributing letters to the public to get donations Koch said. He also said Jennifer Haley will be going to local businesses for donations.

With the money they collect, Koch said they hope to buy weather instruments and long-range communication instruments.

The Severe Storms and Forecast and Operations Program is open to all students who are interested, said Haley. But they must first join the American Meteorological Society, she added.

For more information on the SSFOP call the weather office at 753-0578.