ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Godfreys enjoy the great outdoors. They met in graduate school and share the same mission: meteorology.


What You Need To Know

A husband-and-wife professor duo teach Severe Weather Field Experience at UNC Asheville, a class where they take students storm chasing

The class is currently on hold, but they plan to bring it back in 2024

The professors say severe flooding is the biggest threat to North Carolina


“We really hit it off right away,” said Dr. Elaine Godfrey, adjunct professor of Atmospheric Sciences at UNC Asheville.

“I helped her move in and made her cookies,” said Dr. Christopher Godfrey, professor and chair of Atmospheric Sciences at UNC Asheville.

“It was 104 that day,” Elaine Godfrey said.

“It was. It was very hot, and then we were married within the year,” Christopher Godfrey said.

Recently, they checked on the weather station at UNC Asheville.

“It’s gorgeous today. We’ve got temperature measurements here at multiple levels. We’ve got relative humidity. We’ve got wind at several levels,”  Christopher Godfrey said.

These professors aren’t chained to an indoor classroom, they take their classroom outside. They teach the Severe Weather Field Experience class at UNC Asheville, where they take students storm chasing.

These storm chasers always prioritize keeping students safe, including having an exit plan and an escape route.

“When we go storm chasing, we do not want to get within a mile of the tornado. We want to stay back at least a mile or two, sometimes four or five miles," Christopher Godfrey said.

During one of their scariest memories, a tornado was on the way toward them.

“The roads were a little bit wet. We turn down this dirt road, and I tapped on the brakes and the van slid, and it was perpendicular to the road, and so I said, 'everybody out,'” Godfrey said.

The group pushed the van back around, and they got out safely. That’s a lesson they teach: Sometimes weather can go in the wrong direction. They remember the flooding in the mountains of 2021.

“Extreme flooding is the biggest danger we face here in the Carolinas, especially associated with tropical storms. The big flooding events that happened in Canton and Cruso a couple of years back were very deadly and very dangerous, so it’s extremely important to be very weather aware,” Elaine Godfrey said.

The Godfreys' advice for making it through severe weather is have a weather radio with batteries, don’t drive into flooded waters and stay away from rivers and streams that could become raging.

They also have advice for community planners.

“When we expand our communities, it’s important to not build on super steep slopes, because those slopes can slide and become debris flow events following heavy rains,” Christopher Godfrey said.

For now, the storm chasing class is currently on hold, but they’re planning on bringing it back for 2024 and getting that exciting feeling back of chasing the weather. 

“The weather is just fascinating, and it’s so neat to experience the grandeur of super cells, especially on the great plains. It’s like the experience of going to Niagara Falls and just seeing the majestic wonders of God’s creation,” Elaine Godfrey said.

The week of March 5 is Severe Weather Preparedness Week in N.C., and that continues through Saturday.