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Ball State students get up close look at severe weather in storm-chasing class

A select group of students are getting real-world experience chasing storms across the Great Plains.

INDIANAPOLIS — A group of Ball State students are sharing their storm-chasing experience from the Great Plains.

The students are on a trip of a lifetime, studying the atmosphere, forecasting severe weather and chasing storms.

"So far, we've seen at least five tornadoes, but the biggest one yesterday was either EF2 or EF3 range in Kansas," said student Rachel Wynalda.

Wynalda is just one of a small group of students led by Ball State associate professor of meteorology Dr. Dave Call. 

"I pride myself on the fact this is a chase class and not a chase tour," Call said.

This is his 14th time in charge of the storm chasing class.

"To understand what radar is really showing you, the storms, is essential," Call said. "So on this trip, we have the radar in the vehicles, we have it on iPads while we're standing there looking at the storms, and that lets us, you know, really make those connections between how storms work and what we can see on radar."

Those forecasts can save lives and you can tell these students have a real passion for the weather.

"I got mine from my dad, actually. He loves storms as well, and even yesterday when we were watching the tornado, I gave him a quick FaceTime call and just showed him the tornado," Wynalda said.

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"You can look at all the data and everything, but you have to, in the end of the day, be prepared for everything, because weather is very unpredictable and I feel like the more than we're out here and the more storms that we chase, we get more knowledgeable about trends and those things that can help us to, like, identify storms better and protect people," said student Alexander Duffus.

Duffus is another student on the chase, and his passion comes from wanting to protect people.

"I don't think anybody should have to die for much more," he said. "So any way that I can help the meteorology field and how to protect people, I want to do [it]."