Dr. Christopher M. Godfrey, Professor

Katie and Ellie

About Me

I came to UNC Asheville in 2007 after receiving a Ph.D. in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma, specializing in land surface modeling. I also participated in a number of field projects studying topics from severe weather to precipitation measurements. I met my wife, Elaine, in graduate school and we have three beautiful daughters.


I love to teach people about the wonders of our atmosphere and I care deeply about my students' academic and personal successes. I teach a number of courses at UNC Asheville on topics related to severe weather, programming, computing techniques, atmospheric physics, thermodynamics, statistics, instrumentation, and societal impacts of weather. You will find course documents for all of my courses using the links in the menu above. If you have questions about your course or advising, please do not hesitate to contact me.


In July 2016, I received a renewal of a NOAA grant, along with Chris Peterson of the University of Georgia and Frank Lombardo of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, that will characterize the interconnected nature of debris and damage propagation within communities by carefully examining both the built and natural environment through detailed damage surveys following tornadoes. This effort is part of the larger VORTEX-Southeast research program. Updates to the project, entitled Addressing Interconnections between the Built and Natural Environments through Post-Event Damage Surveys, are available here.

In August 2015, I started working on a joint research effort with researchers at UNC Charlotte. Funded by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the project, Increasing the Utilization of Weather Data for Safety Applications and Traveler Information seeks to develop short-term, localized visibility predictions for use in traveler information systems and forensic analyses. Find more information about the research and project updates here.

In August 2013, I received a grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation that will improve the duration and quality of historical climate records for use in a pavement design model. The project, Improved Climatic Data for Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design, will construct continuous 30-year hourly data records for several sites across North Carolina. The work will rely on a robust gap-filling technique to replace missing observations. A student will help me to collect the historical data and conduct sensitivity analyses on the impact of the improved data on pavement performance predictions. See project updates here.

In June 2011, I received an NSF grant, along with Chris Peterson of the University of Georgia, to study tornado damage patterns in mountainous forests. The project, Reconstruction of near-surface tornado wind fields from forest damage patterns in complex terrain, began with aerial photographs of tornado tracks in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Chattahoochee National Forest, followed by ground surveys and a detailed analysis of the treefall patterns. The tornadoes were part of the 27 April 2011 tornado outbreak across the southeastern U.S. See maps and project updates here.

I worked with several students and a local National Weather Service Forecast Office on a large-scale, interdisciplinary project to determine how the general public receives and utilizes tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings. Respondents completed an online survey within 72 hours of a severe weather warning during the period April—August 2010. A conference preprint and the preliminary convective warning utilization study results are available.

Other research efforts assess the value of assimilating observations of soil temperature, soil moisture, and satellite-derived vegetation indexes in a land surface model. Results show that the accuracy of surface energy fluxes deteriorates in the Noah land surface model with a more accurate specification of the initial land surface conditions. Using a wealth of unique surface observations, I devised an empirical latent heat flux scheme that improves short-term mesoscale forecasts.

Other Items

I built and continue to maintain a research-quality meteorological tower on campus. This tower is part of the North Carolina ECONet. Current data are available on our observations page and the page for the department's 60-inch weather wall display. Archived data will soon be available on the department's website.

Consider becoming a volunteer observer for CoCoRaHS and work with others to measure precipitation across the nation. I am the CoCoRaHS coordinator for Buncombe and Henderson counties in North Carolina.

The UNC Asheville Department of Atmospheric Sciences hosts a new NCEP Reanalysis plotter. Please visit the new plotter to visualize the global data from 1950 to 2016.

North Carolina's Public Liberal Arts University