Ashton Robinson Cook - Meteorologist
Muse Science Magazine for Kids|July/August 2021
Ashton Robinson Cook always knows when a tornado, hurricane, or winter storm is coming. It’s his job to know. As a meteorologist, he analyzes weather data to figure out where and when storms are likely to hit. Typical weather forecasting tools can look only up to a week ahead. But Cook has developed software called WeatherDeep that can make predictions up to two months in advance. Cook was the first African American man to earn a PhD in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma and also earned the 2017 American Association of State Climatologists (AASC) Dissertation Award for his research on tornadoes.
By Kathryn Hulick

HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOUR JOB?

I forecast tornadoes for a living. I tell people where tornadoes are going to be in a few days so they can get prepared. I also forecast large hail and thunderstorm wind gusts.

WHAT FASCINATES YOU ABOUT TORNADOES?

They are one of the most powerful forces of nature that exist. Think about what it takes to form one—all the processes in the clouds above. I’m in awe of that power. I’ve chased supercells at night, and sometimes being out there in the inflow of the storm is electrifying!

WHEN DID YOU FIRST BECOME INTERESTED IN STORMS?

When I was three years old, I lived in a mobile home in southwest Little Rock, Arkansas. A tornado picked the trailer up and set us down off the foundation. For a while [my mother and I] were trapped because there was a blockage against the front door. We had to get out the back. Because of that, I was always afraid of storms when I was younger.

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