Hello! VORTEX2 has been extremely busy lately, with chases occurring every day. We have been fortunate to have at least had opportunities every day…and several of the storms have been tornadic. The LSC/NCAR Photogrammetry team was able to collect data on one supercell that produced two tornadoes near Deer Trail, Colorado on June 10th. See below for some pictures of the tornado! We also surveyed the damage, and found one tree that had one large and several small branches broken off. We believe this was cause by the tornado, but will have to verify this using the radar data.
We are very excited to have another case under our belts, and hope for more before the end of the project. There are only 4 days left!!!
Happy anniversary, everyone!
…you do remember what happened on June 5th, 2009, right? On that day in Goshen County, Wyoming, VORTEX2 had a very successful deployment on a tornado that lasted over 30 minutes and was rated as an EF-2 (on a scale of 0 to 5). It ended up being the only case that the LSC/NCAR Photogrammetry team had to analyze from the 2009 campaign. That work is still being done, and we have found some really fascinating things by combining our high-resolution photos and video with the mobile Doppler radar data.
But now back to our current data collection! We are still waiting for another good case. As I mentioned in the last post, we have adopted a new, more aggressive operations strategy that will hopefully enable us to intercept more storms and collect more data. Recently, we have targeted several storms in Nebraska. Unfortunately, mot of these storms did not remain isolated, meaning that there were numerous other storms in the vicinity and they ended up combining into one large storm system. These are very difficult for us to collect data on.
The weather now brings us into Iowa, and we are currently further east than we have been at any point during the project. Happy anniversary…here’s to a repeat of last year’s June 5th!
There is an idea that many storm chasers in the Midwest look to to help them get through what might be a slow day to start: “6 o’ clock magic.” The idea was presented to me at the beginning of the 2009 campaign by team member and now NCAR Director Dr. Roger Wakimoto. Sure enough, I have seen the magic for myself on many days. We can spend all day sitting in a park under clear skies, and then suddenly, as the minute hand points straight up and the hour hand points straight down, storms will begin the fire and the chase commences.
Today is the first day of June, the 6th month of the Gregorian calendar. We are hoping that 6 remains a lucky number and we see some “sixth-month magic”. While we do have at least one tornado under our belts, it was weak and very short lived, making it difficult for that case to meet the science objectives that our team set out with VORTEX2 for. Project coordinators have recently rethought how we operate and have decided to be much more aggressive. Hopefully that change along with some of that magic will enable us to intercept storms and collect data that will help us meet our goals.
We have been busy though…since we last blogged, we have travelled through Colorado, into Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, and into Kansas. Along the way, we saw Jackalope Square in Douglas, Wyo., Mt. Rushmore (yes, again), and Devils Tower National Monument. We’ve deployed on several storms, one very nice and long-lived supercell in Colo., but none of them produced tornadoes while we collected data.
Stay tuned to see if that sixth month magic is realized!
We are pleased to announce that we have officially captured our first tornado of the season! It occurred near the town of Tribune, KS around 6:20 central time. The tornado was only approximately on the ground for 10 seconds and was only of EF0 strength. So although we saw our first tornado there probably is not much we can do with this case. However, we were able to take 2 pictures from one location which I will show below. Along with the one confirmed tornado there were various other funnels that were also captured from 2 locations. At least we now know we are not cursed…
Pictures will up uploaded later we maybe on the move for today!
The 2010 campaign of Vortex2 is now over halfway complete. The armada has so far traveled over 5,000 miles across 6 states. In that time, we have sampled numerous storms, with a couple of them even being deemed tornadic. Some great data has been collected, but your favorite photogrammetry team has not yet had the opportunity to photograph and record a tornado, which is our mission. Fortunately, there are still 3 weeks left.
On Sunday the 23rd, the team sampled some storms in western Kansas. We then traveled north to Interstate 80 in Nebraska, and deployed first on a line of storms and second on a slightly more isolated and reportedly weakly tornadic cell near Gothenburg, NE. Our team did not have a visual of any tornado, however. Operations are planning on being held today. The severe storm threat seems to diminish tomorrow, but we should have more chances come late week. As usual, stay tuned, and thanks for reading!
Thanks for sticking with us! I am not so happy to announce that we have still not been able to see a tornado. However, we have deployed on a few storms. Some tornadoes were reported with the storm, but it is what we call an “HP” or high precipitation storm so the visibility of the tornado was very low due to the copious amounts of precip.
Last night we deployed on a storm north of Scottsbluff, NE. The storm was looking decent on radar and had a beautiful wall cloud on it…that was until we deployed on the storm. The inflow to the storm was so cold, it wasn’t hard to imagine why the storm died. I was starting to wonder why I didn’t bring my winter jacket to stay warm.
In any event, today has been classified as a down day. The area we would target is just too far out of reach for our crew today. We are all pretty exhausted from spending the last week in a car. So some well needed R&R is in order! Along with an actual meal! Below are some pictures from various storms we have deployed on this week.
wall cloud near Dumas, OK
lightning on the same storm but near Pampa, OK
Waiting in the same parking lot as last year before the tornado...we were hoping it would bring us luck...it did not
Please accept my apologies for the hiatus from blogging we seem to have taken! Rachel and I flew back to Vermont to attend our graduation from LSC…we are both now degree-holding meteorologists! Also congratulations to Rachel for being selected by the Alumni Council as this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Graduating Senior Award! I mention this because in the time we were gone, not much happened for the Team out in the field. There was a lot of driving across west Texas and eastern New Mexico, and a couple of storms that produced large hail, but no tornado intercepts by the armada. We flew back just in time, though…the weather situation became much more conducive for tornadic storms today. We positioned ourselves well early in the day and deployed on a long-lived supercell north of Amarillo for several hours. There were several tornado reports associated with this storm, but we were not so lucky to be able to see a tornado from our locations. Thick curtains of rain obscured the tornado from view.
Wednesday also looks like a favorable day for operations, and of course we will be on the prowl once again.
I was able to capture this photo of a weak funnel today…and until next time, enjoy!
Hello everyone. Many of you have probably already heard the reports and seen some of the images out of Oklahoma from May 10th. Numerous tornadoes touched down, killing 5 people, destroying numerous houses and businesses, damaging many more and cutting power to many towns. The storms were less than ideal for Vortex2 operations though. First of all, they occurred in an area (eastern OK) that is not as suitble for chasing as much of the rest of our domain is. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the storms were moving very, very fast. Many traveled at 50 to 60 mph, with one along the OK/KS border that had a reported speed of 70 mph. With storms moving at that rate, it is not possible for the armada to ‘chase’ as we usually would. Instead, we set up a net near Stroud, OK before storms formed and hoped for the best. Unfortunately, tornadic storms moved just to the north and south of our net. Some teams were able to drop south, but for many, it was too late. We knew it would be a challenge, and were unfortunately not able to collect any photographic or video data. Some of the radars associated with the project were scanning though, and a damage survey was warranted. That is being conducted by members of our team as I type. Results from that will be posted later. The rest of the armada is en route to a new target for today…if storms form, there is a decent chance they will become tornadic. Stay tuned!
So still only 1 mission in counting…
However, Monday is looking the best we have seen this season for severe weather. We may operate tomorrow depending if all the ingredients line up to organize convection or not. Monday we are almost certain we will operate; however, currently it is in such a broad area that hopefully can narrow down to a more specific target area.
For today…we did a little sight seeing! The students of the LSC/NCAR Photogrammetry headed to Palo Dura, the second largest canyon in the United States! We hiked up to the most prominent feature called the lighthouse. It was an amazing sight that many of the VORTEX crew took advantage of on this down day seeing. Below you can see images of our hike! The layers of sediment date all the way back through the Jurassic Period to last tuesday! Hopefully we will have more storm related information to give you shortly…
You can see all the way to the Jurassic period!
We hiked up there!
Yesterday (May 6th), the project intercepted its first thunderstorm! We began the day in Hays, KS and slowly drifted north and west during the afternoon. Late in the afternoon, storms began to fire in eastern Colorado. These storms intensified as they moved towards us. We knew that the tornado threat was pretty much zero, but everyone was anxious to deploy and test out their instruments on a real storm. In fact, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle launched yesterday, a first for V2. The UAV is a small aircraft that is launched near a storm and then remotely controlled to fly in an around the storm, collecting data as it flies.
The photogrammetry team didn’t have any data to collect, but we did practice our deployment strategy just to be sure we can do it when we are on a tornadic storm.
The storm system that helped to causer the thunderstorms yesterday swept all of the warmth and moisture out of the plains, so no operations will occur until Sunday at the earliest. The armada is traveling today and will have a down day tomorrow. Forecasts are coming into alignment now that next week will feature a classic severe weather setup in the Vortex2 domain…so we expect to be very busy, operating several days in a row. Really, between the two years so far, we have not had a week like that. Stay tuned! For now, please enjoy the following picture that I snapped of a cow that is very curious of DOW7 (Doppler on Wheels):