1301 W. Green St.
Urbana, IL 61801
Originally a student with a declared major of Landscape Architecture at Augustana College, my love for weather led me down the path of switching majors to study Meteorology. My interest in the weather stems from growing up in Batavia, a western suburb of Chicago, where severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings were prevalent during my childhood. My family would often set up chairs in our garage to watch the storms roll in. I can still remember falling asleep to Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers on the TV, wanting to go storm chasing myself some day.
I spent my undergraduate years studying meteorology at the University of North Dakota, which gave me an unique perspective on the field since UND's aviation program was so large and connected with the meteorology program. During my last year of undergraduate studies and after graduation, I worked at a road/weather information company called Iteris. I received some forecasting training through Iteris and helped the South Dakota Department of Transportation to use the company's winter weather decision support system for their fleet of snow plows. I later moved to Burbank, CA, to work on the road information side of the company, helping to build 511 information systems for various states and a large 511 project with the San Francisco Bay area. But I knew I was not using my degree, and figured that going back to school for my graduate degree would be the next move.
I came back home to begin my graduate studies at the University of Illinois. I have since completed all of my course work, completed my Master's degree, and begun work on my PhD. My research has focused on analyzing simulations of severe thunderstorms. I have even been given the opportunity to be the driver for the department's Field Studies of Convection course, realizing my dream of chasing after storms on the Great Plains.
-Tornadic and non-tornadic supercell thunderstorms
-Real and idealized simulations of supercells, thunderstorms, and their environments
-Research-to-operations in severe weather forecasting
-Case studies of thunderstorms observed during field campaigns
My Master's research focused on the tornado outbreak of 24 August 2016 in Indiana and Ohio. We used the WRF Model to simulate this event and manipulated the output so that it was compatible with pressure decomposition code so that we could analyze pressure perturbations within the simulated storms of interest. Findings stress the importance of ingesting strongly sheared air near the surface for the formation of supercells during this event. A differential heating boundary owing to anvil cover seems to have played a crucial role in preserving the horizontal vorticity owing to the shear near the surface (Gray and Frame 2019).
I switched gears for my PhD research, simulating idealized supercells using CM1. We explored how the orientation of the 3–6-km vertical wind shear vector impacts the longevity of and thus the potential for near-surface vortex formation within simulated supercell thunderstorms. Our investigation is significant because these impacts have been relatively unexplored and because the midlevel winds dictate where outflow surges develop within supercells. We found that the storm-relative location of outflow surges can affect the magnitude of the convergence beneath an updraft, the buoyancy of the air flowing into an updraft, and the potential tilting and undercutting of an updraft by outflow, all of which can influence supercell longevity and thus the potential for near-surface vortex formation (Gray and Frame 2021).
Ongoing research includes utilizing trajectories initialized within simulated supercell outflow surges to calculate vorticity budgets for parcels that are ingested by or pass beneath the updraft. Early results indicate that crosswise vorticity is generated as the parcel approaches and descends in the outflow surge. The crosswise vorticity is then exchanged and tilted into streamwise vorticity as the trajectory turns left when exiting the outflow surge. Streamwise vorticity is generated baroclinically near the surface and is stretched as the parcel accelerates away from the outflow surge toward the updraft. Lastly, streamwise vorticity is tilted into vertical vorticity and stretched as the parcel approaches and is ingested by the updraft.
-University of North Dakota: B.S.
-University of Illinois: M.S.
-University of Illinois: PhD (in progress)
Awards and Honors
-Graduated Summa Cum Laude, University of North Dakota (2014)
-Ogura Outstanding Teaching Award (2018)
-Midwest Student Conference on Atmospheric Research, 1st Place Graduate Student Oral Presentation (2021)
Courses Taught as Main Instructor:
-ATMS-100: Introduction to Meteorology (Spring 2019, Spring 2020)
Courses as Taught as a TA:
-ATMS-100: Introduction to Meteorology (Fall 2016)
-ATMS-313: Synoptic Weather Forecasting (Spring 2017, 2018)
-ATMS-314: Mesoscale Dynamics (Spring 2017)
-ATMS-324: Field Studies of Convection (Summer 2017, 2018, 2021)
-ATMS-303: Synoptic-Dynamic Weather Analysis (Fall 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
-ATMS-306: Cloud Physics (Spring 2021)
Gray and Frame, 2019: Investigating the transition from elevated multicellular convection to surface-based supercells during the tornado outbreak of 24 August 2016 using a WRF Model simulation. Wea. Forecasting, 34, 1051-1079, https://doi.org/10.1175/WAF-D-18-0209.1.
Gray and Frame, 2021: The impact of midlevel shear orientation on the longevity of and downdraft location and tornado-like vortex formation within simulated supercells. Mon. Wea. Rev., 149, 3739-3759, https://doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-21-0085.1.