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Kyle Killion

Profile picture for Kyle Killion

Contact Information

4064 Natural History Building
1301 W Green St
Urbana, IL 61801
Graduate Research Assistant, Advisor: Dr. Robert Trapp


I am a first-year Master's student investigating damaging wind generation in extreme thunderstorm-wind events under the advisement of  Dr. Robert Trapp. Prior to beginning my M.S., I graduated with a B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in May 2022. During my undergraduate time at UIUC, I gained valuable experience in the classroom, as a teaching assistant, through undergraduate research, and during my Pathways internship.

During both my junior and senior year, I was involved in interdisciplinary studies between the Department of Atmospheric Sciences and the Department of Civil Engineering. I investigated significant path deviations in strong tornadoes using the NWS Damage Assessment Toolkit during my junior year. I then investigated the utility of Doppler radar data in the assessment of tornado intensity during my senior year. Between my junior and senior year, I was selected for an in-person internship with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas, NV. During my time in Las Vegas, I gained a thorough understanding of how the NWS works, completed a variety of tasks, including graphics production for social media, assisting in weather balloon launches, and providing observation assistance during monsoon operations. 

Research Description

In my research, I am investigating the mechanisms for damaging wind generation in extreme thunderstorm-wind events, such as derechos. Non-tornadic thunderstorms produce tens of thousands of severe wind reports across the U.S. annually. While the annual number of severe wind reports exceeds that of tornadoes by an order of magnitude, tornadoes have been subject to more research than mesoscale convective systems (MCSs). Prior studies indicate three possible wind generation mechanisms in MCSs, downbursts, rear-inflow jets (RIJs), and mesovortices. An investigation into damaging wind generation in non-tornadic thunderstorms will provide new, potentially life-saving information for both atmospheric sciences, through improved operational forecasts and warnings, and wind engineering, through improved building codes. A two-part, modeling-based study will be used to identify the mechanisms. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model will be used to simulate five case studies of high-impact thunderstorm-wind events. A case study of the 10 August 2020 derecho illustrated that WRF simulations compare well with operational radar (WSR-88D) observations. Utilizing the WRF simulation results to design the simulations, reduced-complexity, dynamical-model (RCDM) simulations will be run on the Cloud Model 1 to gain an understanding of the wind characteristics of each mechanism.


M.S. Atmospheric Sciences | University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign | May 2024

B.S. Atmospheric Sciences with Highest Distinction | University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign | May 2022

Awards and Honors

Mankin Mak Scholarship Recipient | April 2021

Ogura Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research | UIUC Department of Atmospheric Sciences | Aug 2021 - May 2022

Courses Taught

Teaching Assistant | ATMS 120: Severe and Hazardous Weather | August 2020 - August 2021

Teaching Assistant | ATMS 201: General Physical Meteorology | August 2021 - May 2022