Weather students drawn to UT Martin program
MARTIN, Tenn. — Some of the most frequent deadly tornadoes in the country happen in our area. Because of this threat, there’s a fascination to learn about these violent acts of nature. Storm spotter classes offered by the National Weather Service are well attended, but some want to take their weather education to another level. The only university in the state to offer a degree with a concentration in meteorology is right here in West Tennessee — The University of Tennessee at Martin. Extreme weather events are incredible to watch. Although horrifying to some, others are inspired to learn not only where weather develops but how. “When I lived in Nashville as a child, I saw an EF5 tornado outside my window and I thought, I wanted to learn more about that,” said Zach Hatcher, UTM Meteorology Student and WBBJ 7 Weather Intern. From television to social media, weather events are given more exposure, sparking the interest of students such as Zach Hatcher. “About three years into the program that I was in, I actually passed a poster that was in the hallway,” Hatcher said. “I thought, ‘I didn’t know they had a meteorology program.’ I thought, ‘I’m going to switch to that. That’s what I needed to do.'” UTM launched their geo-sciences program in 2011. It is the only university in the state where students can earn degree with a concentration in Meteorology. Enrollment is currently at an all-time high. “I think the growth is going to be steady,” said Dr. Chris Karmosky, assistant professor of meteorology. “I don’t know if it’s going to be exponential like we had it. But we have had a good cohort of incoming students this year.” With the weather in West Tennessee as active as it is, professors say the university is attracting students from across the Volunteer State. “We’ve seen some Middle Tennessee, West Tennessee and a couple from East Tennessee,” said Dr. Mark Simpson, professor of geography. “So we have actually managed to be known throughout the state as having a meteorology program.” Some students who have been in the program since the start say it continues to improve. “I have definitely seen more faces, more enthusiastic faces, emotions with everyone,” said Grant Smodic, senior UTM meteorology student. “Also the special topics have seemed like every semester that there is something else that is being offered.” Professors use current weather events similar to the recent massive snow storm in Buffalo to help students understand not only how the storm develops but learn how to forecast future events. The program also teaches students how to create maps and graphics for people to easily understand the weather around them. “The demand for understanding how the atmosphere works and a lot of the intricacies involved that are going to demand students to be studying these things,” Simpson said. If you would like more information on the UTM meteorology program or about future Storm Spotter classes being offered by the National Weather Service, visit the weather section of our website.