Current Group Members

Devin McAfee

Affiliation: University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology

Title: Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am a sophomore in the University of Oklahoma’s School of Meteorology. Growing up in Southeast Kansas, I have experienced my share of extreme precipitation events and have seen first-hand the widespread effects they pose on communities. Model data is one of the most vital tools we use in subseasonal-to-seasonal forecasting. One of the group’s main goals is to produce our own model to predict extreme precipitation events. In order to achieve this, we can analyze the ability of current weather forecast models to predict the intensity and areal extent of extreme precipitation events. Currently, I am working on gathering model data and testing the strengths and limitations of present models. Gaining information about the performance of these models in different contexts will provide important insight for the creation of our own model.

Role on the PRES2iP Project: Data Analyst

Paulina Cwik

Affiliation: University of Oklahoma Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability

Title: Graduate Student

Role on the PRES2iP Project: Broader Impacts Team Member

In July 1997, just 2 months before I started the first grade in primary school, Southwestern Poland (where I was born) experienced two periods of extensive rainfall that caused one of the most disastrous floods in the history of my country. The flood of Oder and Morava river basins has been referred to as “the Great Flood of 1997” or “Millennium Flood” because it affected a number of European Countries: Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic, taking the lives of about 114 people and causing material damages estimated at $4.5 billion. I was just 7, but I understood how serious the event was… Afterall, I saw those houses by the riverside that at first were just a bit under water, then almost completely under, and then… just gone. The river literally carried them away. I remember observing unusually rapid and very muddy waters reaching the street where my school was and wondering if the river would decide to take it away as well. Thankfully, I was lucky; my school was untouched, and that Fall, very happy and excited, I started my education. One of the first things that I learned in my first grade was that actually many kids weren’t as lucky as I was to go to a school that Fall. The “Millennium Flood” completely destroyed 100 schools and significantly damaged 843 others (including my future high school). Extreme precipitation events are truly dangerous and impactful hazards and I believe that knowledge about those events and collaboration between scientists and decision makers can help many communities become more aware and resilient in the future.

Ty Dickinson

Affiliation: University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology

Title: Graduate Research Assistant

Role on the PRES2iP Project: Research Activities 1 and 6

Jason C. Furtado

Affiliation: University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology

Title: Assistant Professor

Role on the PRES2iP Project: Co-PI; Co-leading efforts on identifying precursors for and statistical modeling of extreme rainfall events

Living in many parts of the country, I have experienced several extreme rain (and snow!) events. One of the most incredible events I experienced was the Metro Atlanta floods of September 2009. For a week, moderate to heavy rain fell on the metro area, with areas of the city receiving 20”+ of rain during that time, with one night featuring almost 12” of rain itself. Major interstates were closed, rivers overflowed their banks, and many houses and schools were completely inundated with water. While the meteorology of the event captured my scientific curiosity, the human impacts of this historic flood event, including major property losses and relocating students to new schools in the area because their schools were complete losses, made me realize how extreme weather has serious real-world societal and financial consequences.

Cameron Homeyer

Affiliation: University of Oklahoma School of Meterology

Title: Assistant Professor and Associate Director for Undergraduate Studies

Role on the PRES2iP Project: Co-PI; Lead of ground-based radar studies of extreme precipitation events

When I was in high school in southeast Texas, Tropical Storm Allison made landfall and dumped nearly 20 inches of rain on my neighborhood, leading to significant flooding and devastation throughout the area. These events have seemingly increased in frequency and intensity in my home town since then and I am motivated to understand them on a deeper level. The broad-reaching impacts of flooding events make them a truly dangerous and impactful hazard and I believe it is imperative that we become more prepared and resilient to these events in the future.

Charles Kuster


Title: Research Associate

Role on the PRES2iP Project:Broader Impacts team member, workshop support, and Oklahoma emergency management point of contact.

I have been a volunteer and local coordinator for CoCoRaHS ( since I was in 7th grade and love checking my rain gauge each morning and comparing my rainfall totals with fellow volunteers nearby. On August 23, 2017 thunderstorms produced very heavy rainfall at my station and I measured my highest 24-hour rainfall total of 4.43″ with most of that coming in a 2-hour period. Just a couple miles to the west, less than 1.5″ of rain fell. It is amazing how variable rainfall is!

Heather Lazrus

Affiliation: National Center for Atmospheric Research

Title: Project Scientist II

Role on the PRES2iP Project: Social Science and Broader Impacts

As a child growing up in dry Colorado, rain was always very exotic to me and I still feel excited and enchanted by storms, as well as humbled by their power.

Elinor Martin

Affiliation: School of Meteorology & South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center

Title: Assistant Professor

Role on the PRES2iP Project: Principal Investigator

Much of this project was inspired by the record-breaking rain that fell in Oklahoma and Texas in May 2015. I’ll never forget that month as it is also the month I got married. In an outdoor ceremony. In Central Texas. In the wettest month ever for Oklahoma and Texas. Seems fitting for a precipitation scientist! Norman, OK received over 23 inches of rain that month and Austin, TX received over 13 inches. Somehow the rain stopped for a couple of hours that evening and we had the outdoor wedding we wanted (although not on the grass as planned)!

Renee A. McPherson

Affiliation/Title: University Director, South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center
                           Associate Professor, OU Geography and Environmental Sustainability

Role on the PRES2iP Project: Co-PI for PRES2iP and Co-Lead of Research Activity 7

My career began with the creation of the Oklahoma Mesonet (, Oklahoma’s weather network. In fact, it was out of a heavy precipitation tragedy that the Mesonet was funded –– the 1984 Memorial Day weekend flood in Tulsa, Oklahoma (1984 Memorial Day Weekend Flood) that resulted in 14 deaths and $180 million in damages. Before the Mesonet, we had little ability to know how much rainfall fell in many parts of the state. Now, with 5-min measurements of rainfall at 120 locations across Oklahoma, managers can be more able to avert disaster with better decisions during an event. In building the Mesonet, I also learned how valuable it was to work side-by-side with local decision makers. Researchers are great at thinking about scientific questions and answers, but sometimes they forget the practical benefits of their work. For science to be of value to society, I’ve learned that researchers must listen regularly to practitioners. Those local officials, educators, or managers have the best experience knowing how heavy rainfall or other weather extreme affects their communities and what information could lead to less suffering.

Esther Mullens

Affiliation: University of Florida

Title: Assistant Professor of Geography

Role on the PRES2iP Project: Broader Impacts Team member, assists with the development and facilitation of stakeholder workshops

Why an interest in rain? Rain is life giving, but in some cases, extremely dangerous. My first experience of examining impacts of rain was after widespread flooding in my local area of Kent, United Kingdom, during the winter 2000-2001. During an internship, I helped compile a database of flooding for the local Government. In the United States, I’ve witnessed some truly excessive rainfall, from damaging ice storms, to heavy persistent thunderstorms. In 2015, our region experienced several episodes of rain that exceeded several inches in a single day. Back in the UK in the spring of 2018, thunderstorms lead to flash flooding that virtually gridlocked motorways in Kent. While sitting alongside other beleaguered travellers on a motorway that had become a parking lot, I appreciated the power of rain to bring our lives to a standstill, and to highlight where we are deficient in our infrastructure. Throughout the world, the nature of rain is changing, and understanding the evolution of heavy rain at various scales is one way we can be prepared for rain or shine.

Michael B. Richman

Affiliation: University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology

Title: Edith Kinney Gaylord Presidential Professor

Role on the PRES2iP Project: Co-PI PRES2iP

Prof. Richman has a wide range of interests, including analysis of global climate models, examination of the climate dynamics associated with El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), modes of atmospheric variability, interaction of planetary- and synoptic-scale features, analysis of climate variability on both the intra-seasonal and interannual time scales, application of data mining to different radar platforms and statistical methodology. His work has involved analysis of four-dimensional climate models on supercomputers, using high-performance and massively parallel algorithms. Additionally, his expertise in statistical meteorology has led to development of multivariate techniques that summarize very large data sets, identifying their modal patterns, as well as eigentechniques that search for theoretical patterns in observed and modeled data. He has served several terms on both the American Meteorological Society’s Committee on Probability and Statistics and the American Meteorological Society Artificial Intelligence Applications Committees.

Melanie Schroers

Affiliation: University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology

Title: Graduate Research Assistant

Role on the PRES2iP Project: Research Activities 2 and 4

Growing up with parents who are avid gardeners meant I was always aware if there had been too much rain, or not enough. After every storm we would check our various rain gauges to determine if we still needed to water the garden. It was not until much later, when I was about to graduate with a physics degree, that I realized this small interest could be so much more than what it was. Precipitation can have so many impacts on us as individuals, and the larger communities. For me, it would determine how many jars of jelly my family could make that years. I am excited to get the opportunity to work alongside the PRES2iP team to help improve predictability of subseasonal to seasonal precipitation events so we as a community can become more resilient into the future.

Group Alumni

Olivia VanBuskirk

Affiliation: University of Oklahoma Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability

Title: Graduate Research Assistant

Role on the PRES2iP Project: Broader Impacts Team member

I am a new graduate student at the University of Oklahoma. At Oklahoma, I am pursuing my Master’s degree in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability. I am originally from Port Huron, Michigan, and I graduated in May of 2020 with Bachelor of Science degrees in meteorology and geographic information sciences from Central Michigan University. I’m very excited to join the PRES2iP team and to work with all of our stakeholders to help make long-range precipitation forecasts more useful!

Ryan Bunker

Affiliation: University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology

Title: Graduate Research Assistant

Role on the PRES2iP Project: Support research of ground-based radar studies of extreme precipitation events

Ashton Robinson Cook

Affiliation: OU South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center

Title: Meteorologist at the NOAA Storm Prediction Center

Role on the PRES2iP Project: Senior Scientist

My interest in extreme weather actually stems from my youth – I was hit by a tornado at the age of 3.  I held a fear of storms throughout my youth, but that fear eventually evolved into a passion for weather prediction and research.  I now forecast all types of weather phenomenon (including severe weather, fire weather, and winter precipitation) and am eager to assist with the PRES2IP project.

Katherine Davis

Affiliation: University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology

Title: Undergraduate Research Assistant

Role on the PRES2iP Project: Data Analyst

Growing up in Michigan, I did not experience extreme amounts of rainfall-induced flooding. When I moved to Norman, I was surprised by how quickly roads could be covered with water. This has intrigued me, and I hope to learn more about how and why these events take place.

Greg Jennrich

Affiliation: University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology

Title: Graduate Student Research Assistant

Role on the PRES2iP Project: My role is to support research on the characteristic patterns associated with S2S extreme precipitation events. I am also helping to identify S2S extreme precipitation events.

One of the earliest experiences I’ve had with heavy precipitation has to be the time my basement flooded as a kid growing up in Northern Illinois. Luckily, we never had to deal with river flooding, but on several occasions, we had water from heavy rainfall flood our basement. I remember the running fans and the damp smell the basement would have afterwards. I am continually fascinated by the impacts weather has with our lives.

Melissa Wagner

Affiliation: Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability

Title: Graduate Student

Role on the PRES2iP Project: Broader Impacts Team Member

My first experience with extreme precipitation was during 2007.My family and I had just moved to Oklahoma from Toronto, Canada when the remnants of tropical storm Erin pushed through Oklahoma. It was quite a change to the extreme weather events I was used to, and this event fueled my curiosity for extreme weather in Oklahoma!