About Me

 “Keep your focus on your passion in life and the things you enjoy doing. You’ll get there. Trust me. I’m doing it.” -Tim Samaras


What are my research questions?

Here’s a few topics I’ve invested substantial effort into and will continue pursuing:

  • Categorical Hazard Index for Tornadoes (CHI-T): creating a “smart” ingredients-based approach to predicting potential tornado intensity
  • Formative Rotation Potential for Supercells (FRAPs): creating a vorticity analysis approach to predicting initial supercell formation
  • Deviant Tornado Motion: anticipating “sudden”, “erratic” turns in occluded tornado motion using a simple hodograph technique
  • Remnant MCV Tornadoes: detecting the presence of Mesoscale Convective Vortices that trigger “surprise” tornado events after slipping past model analysis
  • Storm-Relative Hodography: examining the impact of subtle details in the hodograph on supercell appearance, structure and impacts
  • Cyclic / Long-Lived Tornadoes: understanding which hodograph structures are most conducive to either cyclic or long-lived tornadoes
  • Morning Convective “Tracers”: observing coincidentally repeated patterns of morning precipitation before significant tornadoes
  • Supercell Photogeneity Index: creating an ingredients-based approach to predicting the “ideal-ness” of supercell structure (for fun..?)

Interested in any of the above topics? Contact me and let’s solve it together. 


Why do I pursue tornadoes?

Was there one day you lived through that forever altered your outlook on life? For me, it was April 9th, 2015 in my homeland of northern Illinois, where a clearing sky and cotton candy clouds heralded the march of severe thunderstorms still over the horizon. This was my first real “storm chase”.

Little did I realize, but for much of the day my future-meteorologist friends and I sat waiting in the sunny corn field where a long-lived, violent, and deadly tornado would appear hours later. Looking back, the following course of events never ceases to remind me how much I thought I knew back then, yet how little I did, and still do. And what is likely perceived by you, my reader, as a foolish, reckless, and dangerous hobby, thus began for me as simply an instinctual, obsessive drive to just understand.

I endlessly replay the memory of chasing helplessly after this unknown and unforgiving beast from one too many steps behind, arriving just a moment too late to be graced by its true presence, instead getting checkmated as it trapped me in its path of ruins, forcing me to soak in everything it had done and everything I once thought I could show up against.

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This first encounter left me with the ever un-fullfillable compulsion to gain those lost steps back, to finally be one move ahead so that next time I can stand and breathe calmly in the face of its merciless reappearance, and find the fleeting chance to ask it, “why?”

Vivid memories of what I experienced are the reasons why there is rarely a day when I rush out the door – in excitement for another chance to wander the Great Plains in pursuit of my passion – that I don’t find myself for a brief, unannounced moment suddenly choked up, my eyes in tears and my mind back down to Earth. I still can’t say where exactly this rush of emotions comes from… either from past lives torn to pieces by the “prize” of something I call a hobby, or from detailed premonitions into future torment and the collective fear from those under the gun this time, or my own frustrations as I know there’s nothing I alone can do about it.

But this only fuels my fire.


Education:

Ph.D. Earth and Ecosystem Science (in progress), Central Michigan University

M.S. Atmospheric Science (in progress), Texas Tech University

B.S. Meteorology, Valparaiso University ’17

Contact: nixon.cameronj@gmail.com

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Portrait courtesy Will Wight – http://wwightphotography.com/