About Bob Fritchie

Bob at a glance...

  • Robert Fritchie, 25yrs old, Resides in Norman, OK.

  • Graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma in 2004. Currently a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma pursuing a dual M.S. in Meteorology and Computer Science.

  • Works as a Graduate Research Assistant with the university, and also works part time as an Emergency Medical Technician.

  • Enjoys observing storms firsthand, spending countless hours driving, filming and photographing extreme weather events. Has been involved in storm chasing activities for 7 years and has witnessed many, many hailstorms, tornadoes, flash floods, extreme lightning displays, and even ice storms and blizzards.

  • Research and academic interests include storm-scale numerical weather prediction, dynamic data assimilation, hazardous weather detection, parallel computing, distributed storage and computing networks, and knowledge discovery through pattern recognition and data mining. Professionally, he is particularly interested in the development of software packages used for the processing, visualization, and interrogation of meteorological data.

  • Outside of school, interests include photography, videography, storm and tornado observing, programming, web design, and outdoor activities.

The Longer Version:

I was born in San Diego, CA, and moved frequently throughout my childhood mostly due to the fact that my dad was a Naval officer. Here is a quick synopsis of my early years. In California I lived in Monterrey, and Livermore. We then moved to Springfield VA when I was five, and spent about 4 years there. During this time, my mother and father got a divorce and my mom received custody and finally decided to move closer to her family in Milwaukee, WI. After a few years in Milwaukee, we moved to a small town called East Troy, WI, where I spent the remainder of my middle-school and high school days.

"...before I knew it, I was plotting storm paths with a Wisconsin state map plastered to a cork-board and a bunch of color-coded pins and symbols."

In my early childhood, it quickly became apparent that I had a great deal of motivation to do well in school. Early years spent playing with LEGOs and watching thunderstorms with awe were probably the first signs of my future in physics and meteorology. As I grew, so did my passion for the weather. Severe thunderstorms were my object of affection from kindergarten onward, and would later play a very important role in my education.

I also was involved with the Boy Scouts of America from age 8 through age 18. I enjoyed the camping, but most of all, I really enjoyed the leadership training. I spent several years working at various leadership camps, and also worked as a counselor for summer camp programs. In 2000, I attained Eagle Scout rank.

As years went by, my fascination with thunderstorms grew, and before I knew it, I was plotting storm paths with a Wisconsin state map plastered to a cork-board and a bunch of color-coded pins and symbols. I started taking my hobby to the road in 1999, driving into projected paths of a marginally severe storms and reporting hail sizes, wind damage, etc.. I continued reviewing literature on severe weather phenomena, and continued to build my experience in severe weather forecasting, now-casting, and observing. That same year (1999) I made the decision to go to college for meteorology, and picked OU.

Although my undergraduate education was very important to me, I view it not so much as a great achievement, but as a step in a great direction. Of the many experiences that attending the University of Oklahoma has given me, the chance to travel to observe the monster thunderstorms of the Southern Plains is by far one of the most breathtaking. While receiving the best education in meteorology in the country, I also had the opportunity to step outside and remind myself why I pull all-nighters, why I participate in 18hr study sessions, and why I am driven to pump out 50+ page lab reports in a matter of a day or two. It is because I love physics, I love math, and most of all, I love watching clouds build into a thunderstorm, a thunderstorm based on all of the principles and theories described in our countless hours of lecture and labs. A true Meteorologist is not a weatherman spitting out numbers. A true Meteorologist is really a mathematician and a physicist, who's laboratory is the fluid in which we find ourselves immersed everyday...the atmosphere.

"A true Meteorologist is really a mathematician and a physicist, who's laboratory is the fluid in which we find ourselves immersed everyday...the atmosphere."

I am currently a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma studying Meteorology and Computer Science. You read it correctly, I am working on a dual degree, satisfying requirements for both the M.S. in Meteorology, and the M.S. in Computer Science. I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma in May of 2004. After completing the M.S. degrees, I plan on continuing with doctoral work in Meteorology at a new university. As a graduate student, I am actively involved in various research projects. The research concerning my thesis work is concerned with determining the value of using dynamic data assimilation techniques to retrieve a consistent set of gridded physical data for the detection of hazardous weather phenomena, such as tornadoes, hail, and high winds. In short, I am trying to detect tornadoes and other damaging weather faster and more accurately, allowing for better storm warnings.

Outside of academics and research, I have a long-lived interest in Emergency Medical Services, urban rescue, and confined space rescue. Although my meteorological and research career take up quite a bit of my time, I have found an opportunity to train as an Emergency Medical Technician, become certified, and serve on an ambulance in Purcell, OK. The experience helps me to reach out to the community in a more direct manner, and allows for a great balance to my more traditional desk job.

In my free time, I enjoy a variety of activities, including reading, photography, storm observing (of course), outdoor activities, programming, web design, and a little bit of gaming (Doom3 has me hooked). I have a wonderful girlfriend, whom also happens to be the administrator of the server running this page. She and I have a lot of geeky tendencies in common, so we get along quite nicely. She even thinks my car is cool! True, she is a meteorology major, and yeah, she does also participate in storm observing activities. I have 2 cats now, due to my sympathy for a stray kitten that for some reason, got along with my cat that hates all cats. Their names are Jet Streak and Helicity, and though they are loud sometimes, they do seem to be grateful for the home and, most importantly, food.

Storm observing has been a passion of mine since childhood. I have been an active pursuer of extreme meteorological phenomena since 1999. Prior to 1999, I studied basic meteorology and tracked storms using a scanner and weather radio coupled with a map and pushpin system. (dorky, I know...but it gave me valuable experience prior to taking to the road)

My first two "chase seasons" were spent in Southeastern Wisconsin, where most of the storms were simply marginally severe multicells and, of course, the spectacular Great Lakes Derechoes. After graduating High School, I started my undergraduate education in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, where storms were much more impressive. Chase seasons quickly became more impressive and my experience and background education grew fast.

I now am a graduate student in Meteorology and Computer Science, with specific interests in storm-scale prediction and tornado detection. Obviously, my passion for storms has not subsided and I will continue to drive thousands of miles every spring to witness nature at its best and worst.

Click here to see some detailed reasons why I chase storms.

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