'Tornadoes, Topography and Tall Tales'

Wednesday - September 28, 2016
6:30 PM
Hudson Auditorium, NMOCA

Can certain topographical features (say, Burnett’s Mound in Topeka) keep you safe in a tornado? Spoiler alert: they don't. But Jay Antle, professor of history and executive director of the Center for Sustainability, will explain how these myths gained traction in Tornado Alley.

Antle grew up studying the skies. His father, a meteorologist for the U.S. Navy, helped Antle develop an appreciation for the science of weather. As a history professor, Antle also appreciates the stories and legends that spring from weather-related phenomena. As a child, Jay and his dad bonded over studying hurricanes. After moving to Kansas, it was only natural to turn his attention to tornadoes.

Antle's presentation will include dramatic photographs from his years as storm chaser as well as primary sources such as old newspaper accounts from decades-old storms.

"These myths grow over time. I was really curious as to where these myths came from," Antle said. "I had done some research for years on this, but I had never truly felt satisfied that I had cast the net as wide as I wanted. In the intervening years, newspaper databases have gotten a lot better, and the (College Scholar) program gave me the opportunity to go back and really look at some sources that frankly were too problematic for me to look at 10 years ago."

Admission is free, and the public is invited to attend. A 6:30 p.m. reception honoring Antle's work will be held in the atrium between the Regnier Center and the Nerman Museum that night.

Antle's presentation is part of the College Scholars program at Johnson County Community College. The program showcases faculty excellence in research fields that go beyond the classroom to make scholarly contributions to knowledge within the professor's academic discipline.