New class explores power of Mother Nature |

New class explores power of Mother Nature

Have you ever wondered what it looks like inside the center of a tornado?

Beginning Oct. 30, a six-week course at Lake Tahoe Community College will allow you to see just that through the eyes, lenses and experiences of a South Shore man charged with chasing them for a living.

Carl Young, a 10-year South Shore resident and professional meteorologist, has spent the last three years traveling with National Geographic and renowned Denver engineer Tim Samaras to some of the most extraordinary weather events in the United States.

Young, a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno’s master’s program in meteorology and atmospheric science, took up storm chasing professionally when he met Samaras at a workshop. As part of a research program, National Geographic teamed up with the men along with several researchers that took them to “Tornado Alley” which runs South to North from Texas to the Canadian prairie.

For three seasons, the researchers chased and witnessed more than 100 tornados, including category 4 tornados, considered a one step below the fiercest of storms.

Through research, Samaras had developed the first of its kind “tornado probe” which is a device that is placed on the ground shortly before a tornado approaches. The stationary probe bolted to the ground measures pressure, temperature, humidity and wind speed of cyclones.

The idea behind this probe is to gain an understanding of the dynamics of tornadoes while they are on the ground so researchers can learn about the conditions inside the whirlwinds and, ultimately to improve the engineering of structures so they can withstand the 200 mph winds inside them.

The groundbreaking tornado probe has been featured on National Geographic Channel documentaries such as “Inside the Tornado” and “Secrets of the Tornado” which have appeared regularly, the latter one to re-air again next month.

The purpose of the class is to introduce storm behavior to students and the fundamentals of what spawns tornadoes as well as thunder and lightening storms and other kinds of severe storm behavior such as tropical storms and hurricanes.

“People have a lot of ideas about severe storms or myths about storms and I wish to clarify some of these things,” Young said. “The class will be structured in such a way as a good forum to ask questions, and it will also be a good showcase for a lot of video imaging and photography of not only tornadoes but hurricanes.”

Included in the class will feature rare video footage inside the walls of last year’s deadly Hurricane Katrina, arguably the worst natural disaster of its kind in the United States.

Asked what he hoped students would take from the class, Young said: “I would like for them to grasp and understand weather better, to understand maybe a little bit about weather prediction so when they make their weekend or vacations plans, they will not only be better informed about the climate they’ll be in, but also humbled to some degree by weather and its effects.”

Sign-up for severe weather class

Ever wondered how strong the wind would have to be to lift you off the ground? Does lightning ever strike the same place twice? What the heck is El Niño? Are strands of grass and hay really found embedded like needles into trees after a tornado?

Find out in this six week, 1.5 unit, transferable course. Carl Young, a tornado chaser/photographer from National Geographic, will be teaching a course on severe weather beginning Monday, Oct. 30, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Explore the power of Mother Nature. Register for “GEG 131H Severe Weather” before the first class meeting at

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