Aerial view of severe damage in Mayfield, Kentucky. Courtesy: Kentucky State Senator Whitney Westerfield.

Deadly, dangerous and likely record-setting tornadoes tore through six states over the weekend, causing massive destruction in Kentucky and Illinois, as well as Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee. CU Boulder experts are available to discuss the meteorology that led to the rare, December tornadoes, what scientists are doing to better understand these weather events and how the storms affect those impacted, both financially and educationally.

On high-impact weather events 

Andrew Winters, assistant professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, studies large-scale weather patterns that lead to a variety of high-impact weather events, such as the recent severe tornadoes which developed across the central and south U.S. He can speak to the meteorology associated with this particular event, as well as the current state of the science surrounding them.  

On disaster relief and financial impacts

Emily Gallagher, professor of finance in the CU Real Estate Center, can share financial impacts of natural disasters, like tornadoes, particularly when it comes to federal relief and sending children of affected families to college. She’s co-authored two forthcoming papers that examine: the distribution of financial aid after disasters and how natural disasters impact a family’s decision whether to send their child to college.

On studying tornadoes with drones

Eric Frew, professor in the Ann and H.J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, leads a team of researchers who seek to better understand tornadoes by flying drones into the hearts of supercell thunderstorms. His team recently received a new $1.5 million grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation to expand the effort. He can discuss the research project and why studying tornadoes could be important for developing more effective warning systems.