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Steven Michael Lazarus

Professor | College of Engineering and Science - Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences

Contact Information

Personal Overview

My research interests are varied and include electrical phenomena (gigantic jets), surface layer meteorology and wind/wave interactions.  I have authored or co-authored over 30 peer-review articles and have had more than 2 dozen proposals funded - totaling a little over $2 million. Over the past  5 years I have been a reviewer for various journals including Atmospheric Research, Journal of Atmospheric ScienceInternational Journal of Wind and Structures, Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. Since arriving at Florida Tech, I have graduated 14 MS thesis, and two Ph. D students. I am currently supervising 2 Ph. D students - in the areas of strutural wind loading (associated with high impact weather events), and a machine learning (aviation impact) related project that involves cloud identification using camera imagery. I am PI on a SECOORA grant involving the installation and operation of a coastal (wind and current) radar system here in east central Florida. I am a member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) , American Geophysical Union (AGU) and presently serve as an academic member representative for the University Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) a consortium that includes 120 North American universities with programs i meteorology to hydrology, oceanography, atmospheric chemistry, climate science, etc.

I love to bike, hike, kayak and adopting senior dogs from area rescues. I am a quasi-vegetarian (I will eat some sustainable fish!). For the past 16 summers, I have been a volunteer for the Sea Turtle Preservation Society - giving presentations and guided tours on our local beaches during the summer months and I also serve on the board of directors of the Friends of the Carr Refuge. I like to tweet about climate change, weather, and environmental issues - you can follow me on X (@slazmo)!

Educational Background

Ph.D.: University of Oklahoma 1996
Masters of Science: University of Oklahoma 1990
Bachelors of Science: Florida State 1985

Professional Experience

Dr. Lazarus began his research career as an undergraduate assistant for Dr. James O'Brien at Florida State University, from 1984-1985. During that span, he spent the summer of 1984 as an under-graduate fellow working with the founder of the tornado F-scale, Dr. Theodore Fujita, at the University of Chicago. Before attending graduate school, Dr. Lazarus was employed at the Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where he worked on a statistical ocean modeling project.

Dr. Lazarus completed his master's and Ph D. work at the University of Oklahoma (OU). His work in the areas of modeling severe convection and data assimilation was augmented by tornado chasing during his graduate student years in Oklahoma. Dr. Lazarus met with the founder of chaos theory (aka the 'butterfly' effect), MIT professor Ed Lorenz, to discuss his MS related work regarding the predicitability of rotating thunderstorms. As a post-doc at the University of Utah, he was involved in several projects including real-time weather analysis work in support of the Winter Olympic games, GCM (cloud) evaluation with the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program (ARM), and served as the local AMS chapter president--representing groups from the University of Utah, the National Weather Service and Western Region Headquarters. During the summer of 2004 Dr. Lazarus was a visiting scientist at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction in Washington, D.C. and served on a national committee that is overseeing an operational mesoscale analysis project referred to as the Real-Time Mesoscale Analysis (RTMA). While he stepped down from 8 years of service on Unidata's Users and Strategic Advisory, he continues to serve as a NCAR academic member representative. Committees and received their highest honor, the DeSouza award (see sidebar link). 

Dr. Lazarus is a member of the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union. He is an active participant in the peer-review process having reviewed more than two dozen proposals and/or journal articles. Dr. Lazarus has authored or co-authored more than 30 articles in peer-review journals and spent a sabbatical at the University of Utah during the academic year (2013-2014).

Additional Duties

FIT Committees:

President's Hurricane Advisory; Tenure Review (Co-Chair)

FIT Club Sponsorship

American Meteorological Society; Mishapacha

Graduate Student Advising

2 PhD

Current Courses

Weather Briefing (MET 1999)

Atmospheric Environments (ENS 3101)

Dynamic Meteorology II (MET 4306/5306)

Global Climate Change (MET 5320)

Selected Publications


Besing, H., S. Lazarus, J. Zhang, C. Subramanian, and J.-P. Pinelli: Near surface wind measurements during the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics. Manuscript Number: INDAER-D-23-00960.



Vaidya, H., R. D. Breininger, M. Madrid, S. Lazarus, and N. N. Kachouie, 2023: Genealized Addititve Models for Predicting Sea Level Rise in Coastal Florida. Geosciences, 13, 310;



Lazarus, S., J. Chiappa, H. Besing, M. Splitt, and J Riousset, 2021:Distinguishing characteristics of the tropical cyclone gigantic jet environment. J. Atmos. Sci., 79, 2741-2761,

Colvin, J., S. Lazarus, and M. Splitt, 2020: Extracting nearshore wave properties from video: A new method for coastal estuaries, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science246

Boggs, L. D., N. Liu, M. Peterson, S. Lazarus, M. Splitt, F. Lucena, A. Nag, H. Rassoul, 2019: First Observations of Gigantic Jets From Geostationary OrbitGeophysical Research Lettters, 46, 3999-4006.

Boggs, L. D., N. Liu, J. A. Riousset, F. Shi, S. Lazarus, M. Splitt, H. Rassoul, 2018: Thunderstorm charge structures producing gigantic jets.  Nature, Scientific Reports, 8, Article number: 18085.

Holman, B., S. Lazarus, and M Splitt, 2018: Statistically and dynamically downscaled, calibrated, probabilistic 10-m wind vector forecasts using ensemble model output statisticsMon. Wea. Rev, 146, 2859-2880DOI: 10.1175/MWR-D-17-0338.1.

Colvin, J., S. Lazarus, M. Splitt, R. Weaver, and P. Taeb, 2018: Wind driven setup in east central Florida's Indian River Lagoon: Forcings and parameterizationsEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science



Holman, B., S. Lazarus, and M Splitt, 2017: A fetch-based statistical method to bias correct and downscale wind speed over unresolved water bodiesWea. Forecasting32, 1637-1657.

Weaver, R.J., Taeb, P., Lazarus, S., Splitt, M., Holman, B., and Colvin, J., 2016: Sensitivity of modeled estuarine circulation to spatial and temporal resolution of input meteorological forcing of a cold frontal passage, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2016.10.014.

Boggs, L. D., N. Liu, M. Splitt, S. Lazarus, C. Glenn, H. Rassoul, and S. A. Cummer (2016), An analysis of five negative sprite-parent discharges and their associated thunderstorm charge structuresJ. Geophys. Res. Atmos.121, doi:10.1002/2015JD024188.

Lazarus, S. M., M. E. Splitt, James Brownlee, Nicholas Spiva, and Ningyu Liu, 2015: A Thermodynamic, kinematic and microphysical analysis of a jet and gigantic jet-producing Florida thunderstormJ. Geophys. Res. Atmos.120, doi:10.1002/2015JD023383.

Kelley, N.A., D. M. Smith, J. R. Dwyer, M. Splitt, S. Lazarus, F. Martinez-McKinney, B. Hazelton, B. Grefenstette, A. Lowell, and H. K. Rassoul, 2015: Relativistic electron avalanches as a thunderstorm discharge competing with lightning, Nature Communications6. Article number: 7845, doi:10.1038/ncomms8845.

Aronson, R. B., Smith, K. E., Vos S. C., McClintock J.B., Amsler, M.O., Moksnes, P.O.,. Ellis, D.S., Kaeli, J., Singh, H., Bailey, J.W., Schiferl, J.C., van Woesik, R., Martin, M.A., Steffel, B.V., Deal, M.E., Lazarus, S. M., Havenhand, J.N., Swalethorp, R., Kjellerup, S., Thatje, S., 2015: No barrier to emergence of bathyal king crabs on the Antarctic shelfProc Natl Acad Sci USA. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1513962112.

Barnes, D.E., M.E. Splitt, J.R. Dwyer, S.M. Lazarus, D.M. Smith, and H.K. Rassoul (2015), A study of thunderstorm microphysical properties and lightning flash counts associated with terrestrial gamma-ray flashesJ. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 120, 3453–3464. doi: 10.1002/2014JD021495.

Splitt, M. E., S. M. Lazarus, S. Collins, D. N. Botambekov, and W. P. Roeder, 2014: Probability Distribution and Threshold Selection for Monte Carlo Type Wind Speed Probability Forecasts. Wea. Forecasting29, 1155-1168.

Lazarus, S. M., S. T. Wilson, M. E. Splitt, and G. A. Zarillo, 2013: Evaluation of a wind-wave system for ensemble tropical cyclone wave forecasting. Part I: WindsWea. Forecasting28, 297-315.

Lazarus, S. M., S. T. Wilson, M. E. Splitt, and G. A. Zarillo, 2013: Evaluation of a wind-wave system for ensemble tropical cyclone wave forecasting. Part II: Waves. Wea. Forecasting, 28, 316-330.

Lazarus, S. M., and Coauthors, 2013: 2012 Unidata Users Workshop Navigating Earth System Science Data. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.94, ES136–ES143,

Smith D. M.; Dwyer J. R.; Hazelton B. J.; Grefenstette B. W.; Martinez-McKinney G. F. M.; Zhang Z. Y.; Lowell A. W.; Kelley N. A.; Splitt M. E.; Lazarus S. M.; Ulrich W.; Schaal M.; Saleh Z. H.; Cramer E.; Rassoul H. K.; Cummer S. A.; Lu G.; Blakeslee R. J., The rarity of terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, 2011: Geophys. Res. Lett.38, L08807.

Smith, D. M., et al. (2011), A terrestrial gamma-ray flash observed from an aircraftJ. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2011JD016252, in press.

Lazarus, S. M., M. E. Splitt, M. D. Lueken, R. Ramachandran, X. Li, S. Movva, S. J. Graves, and B. T. Zavodsky, 2010: Evaluation of data reduction algorithms for real-time analysisWea. Forecasting25, 511-525.

Splitt, M. E., S. M. Lazarus, D. Barnes, J. R. Dwyer, H. K. Rassoul, D. M. Smith, B. Hazelton, and B. Grefenstette, 2010: Thunderstorm characteristics associated with RHESSI identified terrestrial gamma ray flashesJ. Geophys. Res.115, A00E38, doi:10.1029/2009JA014622.

Splitt, M. E., J. A. Shafer, S. M. Lazarus, and W. P. Roeder, 2010: Evaluation of the National Hurricane Center’s Tropical Cyclone Wind Speed Probability Forecast ProductWea. Forecasting25, 837-851.

Xid, C., R. Lopez, and S. M. Lazarus, 2009:Issues Regarding Student Interpretation of Color as a Third Dimension on Graphical RepresentationsJ. Geosci. Ed., 57, 372-378.

LaCasse, K. M., M. E. Splitt, S. M. Lazarus, and W. M. Lapenta, 2008: The impact of high resolution sea surface temperatures on short-term model simulations of the nocturnal Florida marine boundary layerMon. Wea. Rev.136, 1349-1372.

Lazarus S. M., C. G. Calvert, M. E. Splitt, P. Santos, D. W. Sharp, P. F. Blottman, and S. M. Spratt, 2007: Real-Time, High-Resolution, Space–Time Analysis of Sea Surface Temperatures from Multiple PlatformsMon. Wea. Rev., 135, 3158–3173.

Lazarus, S. M. and J. Bewley, 2006: A reply to Cristina Archer and Mark Jacobson regarding comments on our evaluation of the wind power parameterization of Archer and Jacobson [2003]. J. Geophys. Res.111 (D10), D1010410.1029/2005JD006396.

Lazarus, S. M. and J. Bewley, 2005: An Evaluation of a Wind Power Parameterization using Tower ObservationsJ. Geophys. Res.110 (D7), 7102, doi:10.1029/2004JD005614.

Myrick, D. T., J. D. Horel, and S. M. Lazarus, 2005: Local Adjustment of the Background Error Correlation for Surface Analyses over Complex TerrainWea. Forecasting20, 149-160.

J. Hacker, J. Hansen, J. Berner, Y. Chen, G. Eshel, G. Hakim, S. Lazarus, S. Majumdar, R. Morss, A. Poje, V. Sheremet, Y. Tang, and C. Webb, 2005: Future Scientific Directions: Predictability. Bull. Amer. Met. Soc.86, 1733-1777.

Lazarus, S. M., J. D. Horel, and C. M. Ciliberti, 2002: Application of a near-real time analysis system in complex terrainWea. Forecasting17, 971-1000.

Lazarus, S. M., A. Shapiro, and K. D. Droegemeier, 2001: Application of the Gal-Chen/Zhang single-Doppler velocity retrieval to a deep convective stormJ. Atmos. Sci.58, 998-1016.

Lazarus, S. M., S.K. Krueger, and G. G. Mace, 2000: A cloud climatology of the Southern Great Plains ARM CARTJ. Climate13, 1762-1775.

Lazarus, S. M., A. Shapiro, and K. D. Droegemeier, 1999: Analysis of the Gal-Chen single-Doppler velocity retrieval. J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol.16, 5-18.

Recognition & Awards

DeSouza award winner for service and activity in the Geoscience Community (2018)
NCEP visiting scientist (June-July 2004)UCAR Strategic Advisory Committee (2016-2018)
UCAR Member Representative (2012-present)
University of Utah visiting professor (Sabbatical), 2013-2014)
NCEP visiting scientist (June-July 2004)
NCAR-ECSA Junior Faculty Forum on Predictability participant (June 2003)
COMET workshop on Atmospheric Thermodynamics participant (August 2002)
AMS Salt Lake City chapter president 2000-2001
Member, American Geophysical Union
Member, American Meteorological Society
Unidata Strategic AdvisoryCommittee Representative (2015-2018)
Unidata User Workshop participant 2009, 2012, 2015
Unidata Users Committee Representative (2009-2015)
Co-Chair, Unidata Triennial Workshop 2015


  • General Dynamics. Radionuclide Station (RASA) Operator. $22,000/yr (PI, ongoing).
  • NIST (Disaster Resilience): Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) system and Lidar experiments for the characterization of strong wind loads on non-structural components and near-surface wind profiles.  $467,000 (Co-PI along with Mani Subramanian and Jean-Paul Pinelli). 8/01/2019 -5/31/2024.
  • NSF (REU Site: Statistical Models with Applications to Geoscience (SMAG). $304,000 (Co-PI along with Nezamoddin Nezamoddini-Kachouie).  9/01/2020-8/31/2024

Recently Funded

  • Partnering to meet the needs of coastal communities for actionable information to protect lives and property. NOAA/SECOORA $455,00 (PI). 6/01/2021-5/31/26

Research & Project Interests

When the weather gets rough - our research group heads out into the field. Check out the Florida Today story of our wind lidar deployment duing Hurricane Isaias.

See my Oct. 24 2019 NPR interview regarding our lidar work on wind loading, assessment and mitigation from Orlando's WMFE bi-weekly Intersection news program. 

Here's a link to an invited presentation in association with the (2018) Russell L. DeSouza award honoring “individuals whose energy, expertise, and active involvement enable the Unidata Program to better serve the geosciences”. For more on the award, visit the University Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Unidata pages

Dr. Lazarus' research interests include mesoscale analysis, data assimilation and modeling. He is currently funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on a wind loading/assessment project and was recently awarded a NOAA grant to support the installation and maintainance of two coastal (wave and current) radars in east central Florida. 

Other areas of interest include climate change and hurricanes, coastal meteorology, wind/wave modeling, and thunderstorm electrification/transient luminous events including terrestrial gamma ray flashes and gigantic jets.

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