Neil B. Ward

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Neil Ward
BornJune 26, 1914
DiedApril 12, 1972(1972-04-12) (aged 57)
Alma materUniversity of Oklahoma
Texas A&M University
Known forPhysical modeling of tornadoes, first scientific storm chase
Scientific career
FieldsPhysics, Meteorology
InstitutionsWeather Bureau, National Severe Storms Laboratory

Neil Burgher Ward (June 26, 1914 – April 12, 1972), American meteorologist, was the first scientific storm chaser, and second known storm chaser, developing ideas of thunderstorm and tornado structure and evolution as well as techniques for forecasting and intercept. He also was a pioneering developer of physical models of tornadoes, first at his home, then at the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL). He significantly furthered understanding of atmospheric vortices, particularly the tornado.[1]


Ward first studied mechanical engineering at the University of Oklahoma (OU). In 1939, he began working for the Weather Bureau as a weather observer, eventually becoming a forecaster. Earning two scholarships, he attended graduate school at Texas A&M University, the University of Oklahoma, and Colorado State University (CSU), beginning in late 1956. He studied fluid mechanics and developed an increasing interest in atmospheric vortices by the early 1950s.[2] Neil was a research scientist at NSSL from the first year of its operation in 1964 until his death in 1972.[3] He began actively pursuing storms on the road in 1961, coordinating with radar information via the Oklahoma Highway Patrol radio.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bluestein, Howard B. (August 1999). "A History of Severe-Storm-Intercept Field Programs". Weather Forecast. 14 (4): 558–77. Bibcode:1999WtFor..14..558B. doi:10.1175/1520-0434(1999)014<0558:AHOSSI>2.0.CO;2.
  2. ^ Ward, Neil B. (September 1972). "The Exploration of Certain Features of Tornado Dynamics Using a Laboratory Model". J. Atmos. Sci. 29 (6): 1194–204. Bibcode:1972JAtS...29.1194W. doi:10.1175/1520-0469(1972)029<1194:TEOCFO>2.0.CO;2.
  3. ^ Rhoden, Gene (1990). "Storm Pioneer: A Biography of Neil B. Ward". Storm Track. 14 (1): 4–7.
  4. ^ Ward, Neil B. (1961). "Radar and surface observations of tornadoes of May 4, 1961". Proc. Ninth Weather Radar Conf. Kansas City, MO: American Meteorological Society. pp. 175–80.