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Article - Storm chaser finds tornadoes freaky and fun

Storm chaser finds tornadoes freaky and fun

Senior meteorolgy and climatology major is grateful for the scholarships that allow him to have time to chase storms.

Posted: Mon, Jul 2, 2012

He was little when he saw his first tornado.

It was skinny. He saw it from the window of his home in Seward. He doesn't remember if the tornado touched down or not.

"It kind of freaked me out," UNL senior Clint Aegerter says. "I kept asking my mom if we were going to die." Though his mom tried to stay calm, he could tell it freaked her out, too. He could tell tornadoes seemed to freak everyone out. (His high school math teacher had her home taken out by one.)

"Growing up, my mom was deathly afraid of storms. Even if there's just a little rainstorm, she was like, ‘We've got to go to the basement!' That's just the way she is.

"It just got me interested in storms – like, ‘Maybe we shouldn't be so scared.'"

Clint is majoring in meteorology and climatology. Last year, he joined the Nebraska Storm Chase Team, a group made up mostly of meteorology students.

Chasing storms is exciting, he says, and educational. He's learned a lot about weather and wind. But it also can be boring at times – six, seven hours in a car each trip – and it's rare to actually see any tornadoes.

"There's just so much we don't know about them," he says. "They'll come out of nowhere basically, and be hardly any warning. So that is one main reason I like to go out, just to do research and see if there's anything we can find out."

He'd like to work as a forecaster for the National Weather Service or maybe as a storm researcher someday.

Clint and his parents, Jim and Deb Aegerter, are grateful for the thousands of dollars in scholarship money helping Clint chase his dream.

Each year at UNL Clint has earned the Dodie Acklie Nakajima Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded to children of people who work for Crete Carrier Corp. Clint's dad works there. He's in charge of a group of drivers.

"The scholarship means a lot," Clint says. "That's a pretty good chunk of money. It helps me out so I don't have as many loans. It's paid for almost half of my schooling."

And it's helped him have time to chase storms.

Earlier this summer, he finally saw his second tornado. He didn't have to drive far. It came down right near Seward.

"I was on just a country road, and I saw about eight cars – some with Arkansas plates, Kansas plates. ... Everybody was on that storm. It was pretty fun. It was pretty intense. I'd never really been that close to actually having one drop right there."

But what does his mom think about this extracurricular activity?

He smiles.

"It freaks her out when I chase storms."

Student support is a top priority of the Campaign for Nebraska. If you'd like to help students like Clint, please consider giving online or contact the foundation at 800-432-3216.

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