Severe weather threats and tornado warnings are known all too well in Northern Illinois. Sometimes these weather events can cause devastation, such as in Fairdale and Rochelle on April 9, 2015, but one College of DuPage meteorologist is hoping his research can expand predictions on the weather.
Dr. Victor Gensini has been studying severe weather since as long as he can remember.
“I would say I got into a career of met really young, but hit home for me when a tornado hit my high school in 2004,” Gensini said.
From hailstones, to damaging wind gusts, to tornadoes, his passions led him to his recent research. Dr. Gensini says he and his colleagues are looking at the weather fingerprints, like moisture, wind shear, and instability that are left behind in the atmosphere. The key is seeing if these fingerprints were there 2-3 weeks before the storm, and what the jetstream looked like at that time as well.
When the pattern in the jetstream looks like a roller coaster or waving jump ropes, Gensini starts watching for the severe weather threat.
Dr. Gensini says he won't be able to tell if a tornado will hit a specific house, but he could tell if the atmosphere may or may not be favorable for severe weather. With the ability to detect patterns that precede severe weather, the the likelihood for tornadoes could be predicted 2-3 weeks before the disaster.
“It doesn't change the way we do watches and warnings, so we'll still have tornado watches and tornado warnings, you'll still see the crawl on the bottom of the WREX screen,” Gensini says.
He also says this research speaks to our science and how far forward scientists have moved in meteorology and forecasting in the past 20 years.
Despite this huge step in the world of meteorology, Dr. Gensini says he's not done yet.
“I'm proud of it, but it's humbling. We have a long way to go, this is just step one,” Gensini said.
Dr. Victor Gensini also says he's working closely with NIU's Al Marinaro and other colleagues in his field with this research.