Mike Baldwin

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

As soon as the door of the freight elevator in Purdue’s math building opens, those exiting are assaulted by a blast of cold air and a pervasive hum.

It’s the sound of hundreds of cooling fans attached to bank upon bank of computers, all of which are churning away solving problems for the academics who buy space on the machines. Even in an era defined by miniaturization, these supercomputers are room-sized – the latter-day relatives of the first computers, like ENIAC.

The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility / https://www.flickr.com/photos/armgov/4772756538

Central Indiana’s rapid temperature shift this week has produced the possibility for a rare weather condition: the cold air funnel.

Mike Baldwin, a meteorology professor in Purdue University’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, says it’s a type of weak tornado.

“During the day when the sun comes out, even a little bit of sunshine will warm up the surface and the low-level air enough for that air to become unstable,” Baldwin says.

Winter weather in Indiana

Dec 20, 2012

Forecasts for snowfall accumulations Thursday night are in the 1-3" range, more to the north and east where winds off of Lake Michigan will add to the snow totals. Snow is expected to begin shortly after sunset this evening.

Winds will be very strong during this snowfall, gusting at times as high as 60 mph in rural locations, causing low visibility and blowing snow conditions, resulting in dangerous driving conditions across the region.

The National Weather Service has issued a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY which is in effect until 10 a.m. Friday.