University News

Doppler Weather Truck Stops in Macomb

September 22, 2015

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MACOMB, IL – For the second time in three years, students at Western Illinois University will have the benefit of high-tech equipment used to predict and track weather patterns.

The Doppler on Wheels (DOW) is a high-resolution radar mounted on a truck. The truck will also be in the WIU Homecoming parade Saturday, Oct. 3.

The DOW is operated by the Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR) in Boulder, CO. It was brought to WIU by a National Science Foundation Education and Outreach Program grant proposal, written by Associate Professor of Geography Redina Herman.

"The DOW is normally used for storm chasing and has been featured on the hit TV show 'Storm Chasers' many times," said Herman. "DOW has also been used to study hurricanes as they come on shore, winds in the Front Range mountains in the western United States, wildfires and dust storms. When the DOW is not being used for a project or storm chasing, it gets sent to universities for students to gain experience using this million-dollar piece of equipment."

Herman added that the technological vehicle is being used by students in her weather instruments course to analyze and conduct field projects.

"Students either individually or in groups of two came up with two project ideas, one for clear air (no precipitation) and one for a precipitation event," said Herman. "The reason they came up with two project ideas is because we cannot guarantee that it will rain enough times to let every student use the DOW during a rain event."

Clear air projects include tracking of power plant smokestack emissions, analysis of wind farm generated turbulence, downstream extent and evolution of wind blown debris during a harvest, analysis of a morning inversion, and look at variations of humidity/wind before and after a dam on the Mississippi River.

While the DOW truck is at Western, Herman said numerous outreach events are planned. This week, the truck will be at Galesburg High School, the WIU Quad Cities campus, Macomb High School and Junior High and at Lake Argyle State Park in Colchester for Conservation Day.

The DOW truck was at WIU previously in September 2013.

For more information on the DOW vehicle, visit

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