Meteorologist Andrew Pritchard will discuss local tornadic activity during the next James B. Kaler science lecture at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium.
Pritchard's talk, "Chasing Tornadoes and the December 1st Central Illinois Tornado Outbreak," will take place Friday, March 1 at 7 p.m. Admission is $2 at the door with Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium admitted free of charge.
A storm chaser himself, Pritchard has dazzled audiences with tornado video footage over the last couple of years. This past December, the state of Illinois saw its largest December tornado outbreak ever, the third largest in state history. Pritchard, who had forecasted the Dec. 1 event well in advance, witnessed six different tornadoes that day, including the photogenic Beardstown tornado.
His talk will feature firsthand commentary and video of the December tornado outbreak in central Illinois. In addition, he will talk about local tornado climatology and tornado safety.
Pritchard grew up in Champaign-Urbana and was quickly "swept away" by the severe thunderstorms that strike the Midwest each year. After serving as Ed Kieser's weather office assistant at WILL Radio and TV through high school, he received his Associate of Science with a focus in Earth Sciences from Parkland College in 2009 and his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Northern Illinois University in 2012. Currently, he works full time as a meteorologist for Nutrien Ag Solutions at Research Park in Champaign, where he forecasts domestic and international weather patterns and their risk to agriculture. He also operates "Chambana Weather," a weather resource for Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities, with his forecasts airing daily on several local media outlets.
Following Pritchard's talk, the Staerkel Planetarium will present "Secrets of the Sun" followed by Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon." Tickets for regular planetarium programming range from $5 to $6 and are sold at the door. For a full schedule, visit parkland.edu/planetarium or call 217/351-2446.