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WIU freshman Devin Biggs, a meteorology major from Lincoln, IL, trains on the DOW equipment this week.
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DOW will be on campus for student research projects through Oct. 4.
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DOW Truck Makes Three-Week Stop at Western

September 17, 2013

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MACOMB, IL – Meteorology students at Western Illinois University and at regional high schools will get a unique look at weather-predicting equipment as the Doppler-on-Wheels (DOW) mobile radar system spends the next three weeks on the Macomb campus.

The vehicle, which has been featured on the Discovery Channel's "Storm Chasers" show, is in town thanks to a National Science Foundation Center for Severe Weather Researchgrant application submitted by Associate Professor Redina Herman from WIU's Department of Geography. The semi-truck arrived in Macomb on Monday morning and will be on campus through Friday, Oct. 4.

Herman said some of the projects students are anticipating using the vehicle's equipment for include studying fog, looking at the particulates release from the corn harvest, studying heat waves coming from a parking lot, studying the plume released from power plants in Havana and Pekin, studying the effect of the Mississippi River and looking at wind farms.

Herman said Western is a member of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, and it was during a meeting of that group she found out about the grant availability.

A group of technicians travel with the vehicle to train students about the equipment it contains. This week, Paul Robinson and Ab Pfeiffer, both of Boulder, CO, were in Macomb with DOW.

Pfeiffer said the storm chasing group has three DOW vehicles and spends about six months each year on the road. Two months of that time is storm chasing during tornado and hurricane seasons, and the balance is spent on education projects, such as the time at Western.

Herman said in addition to WIU student projects, the DOW vehicle will travel to local schools in Macomb and Galesburg so high school and junior high students can see the equipment. It will also visit the McDonough County Conservation Day for fifth graders and the Warren/Henderson Progressive Farm Safety Day.

The Western students using the equipment for research are in Herman's Principles of Meteorological Instrumentation for juniors and seniors.

A public presentation of DOW will be held Monday, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. in the University Union Capitol Room. DOW Scientist Karen Kosiba will speak about how the vehicle has been used to study thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes. The WIU Severe Weather Club and other campus clubs will have displays at the event.

For more information, contact the Department of Geography at (309) 298-1648 or email

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Office of University Communications & Marketing