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A dark, greenish sky…a loud roar, similar to a freight train…low-lying clouds – if you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, take shelter immediately. A tornado might be in your path! Amy McGovern, a computer scientist at the University of Oklahoma, has been studying tornadoes, nature's most violent storms for eight years. She uses computational thinking to help understand and solve these scientific problems. Computational thinking is a way of solving problems, designing systems and understanding human behavior that draws on concepts fundamental to computer science. Tornadogenesis is the process by which a tornado forms. There are many types of tornadoes, and each type of tornado can have several different methods of formation. Specifically, she is trying to identify precursors of tornadoes in supercell simulations by generating high-resolution simulations of these thunderstorms. Supercell storms, sometimes referred to as rotating thunderstorms, are a special kind of single cell thunderstorm that can persist for many hours. They are responsible for nearly all of the significant tornadoes produced in the US and for most of the hailstorms larger than golf ball size.

Visit Website | Image credit: Greg Foss, Texas Advanced Computing Center, UT Austin