Campus News

‘Twister effect’

John Knox, an associate professor of geography in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, penned a column for USA Today criticizing the nation’s obsession with storm chasing-calling tornadoes “tragedies, not photo opportunities.”

Instead, Knox promoted a focus on the math and physics aspects of meteorology.

Thanks to the 1996 blockbuster Twister, he wrote, storm chasing became popular as a hobby and even as a course of study at some university meteorology programs.

However, the tornado-chasing fad-or the “Twister effect” as Knox calls it-has led to a glut of meteorology degree recipients without the job placement to match. Furthermore, chasing tornadoes in some cases has been deadly for participants.

Knox wrote, “Finally, let’s have more bracing honesty about storm chasing: for most it’s an expensive hobby, a fuel-guzzling luxury, but it’s not a career path for the millions watching on the Internet and at home.”

He also wrote, “That era needs to die before more people die.”