Doppler on Wheels

Severe weather enthusiasts will be able to get an up-close look at the Doppler on Wheels mobile radar system at 5:45 p.m. Monday when it will be on display near The World Theatre in downtown Kearney.

KEARNEY — In the movie “Twister” dozens of tornadoes seem to continue to attack Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton over the span of a couple of days.

Their research team is intent on placing a high-tech research unit “Dorothy” in a tornado’s path to learn the mysteries of tornadic events.

Realistic or ridiculous?

A class at University of Nebraska at Kearney wants to find out and has invited a weather researcher to talk to it — and watch “Twister” and learn more about the latest Doppler mobile technology — at a free movie and lecture at 6:15 p.m. Monday.

Adam Houston, associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will be on hand for the showing of “Twister” at The World Theatre at the invitation of UNK geography professor Jeremy Dillon and a geography class called Dynamic Planet — Hazards in the Environment.

Houston will bring a Doppler on Wheels mobile radar system that will be parked near the theater. Houston and fellow researchers will demonstrate its capabilities starting at 5:45 p.m. The showing of the movie, a brief lecture by Houston and questions from the class and public will follow.

Houston is part of the Unmanned Aircraft System and Severe Storms Research Group at UNL and the University of Colorado. The researchers were the first to direct sample a thunderstorm by using an unmanned aircraft and the first to intercept a supercell thunderstorm. Houston often is in the national news for his storm research.

Dynamic Planet — Hazards in the Environment is a freshman-level course at UNK that teaches the science behind natural hazards related to the solid earth and atmosphere, Dillon said. Those hazards include earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floodings and droughts. This is a special section of the course for Thompson Scholars, a learning community for students awarded the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation Scholarship. The Buffett foundation is helping sponsor the outreach event along with the Department of Geography.

The Doppler on Wheels mobile radar is a National Science Foundation facility available to faculty members at U.S. colleges and universities for research and education. From March 29 through April 13, it is on loan to Houston for educational deployment for his radar meteorology course in the UNL meteorology-climatology program. On April 13 it is on its way back to Boulder.