Friday, May 14, 2010


Hi everyone! I'm sure by you've seen that VORTEX 2 has been incredibly active over the last several days. Its been a lot of long days, late nights, little sleep, no laundry, and endless fast food. I'll be honest, after the schedule we've had this week, I was so relieved when the leaders ceased operations by 5 pm last night. For only the second time this week, I made it to bed before 1 am.

Pat did a good job of summarizing our deployments over the last several days. We were incredibly active and got some good datasets on tornadic storms. And Rich has described some of the challenges and dangers of our field work. I think my mom, and probably other moms of project participants are scared of us getting blown away by a tornado. In all honesty, this is one of my lesser fears. The StickNet teams (especially the trailer teams, of which I am a member of), usually make deployments well in advance of a potential tornado, and have retreated to safety before one is even close to crossing our StickNet array. That's not to say that we're not keeping an eye out and working quickly. But my two biggest fears are traffic and lightning.

The V2 armada features something like 40 research vehicles (and that doesn't include all the media and extra vehicles that are generally with us). Add in the endless number of chasers and curious locals, and there are often over 100 vehicles on the main road, and since we will not travel down dirt roads, that means we're usually making deployments on this "main road." As a driver of one of the larger and least manueverable vehicles of the group, driving through this is nerve-racking and I'm trying to always be conscious of other people's actions (unexpected turns, changes in speed, pulling over). And I'm praying that they're looking out for me too, as I have to jump out of said vehicle and race to the back of the trailer for probe deployments.

So traffic is a problem, but lightning is even more frightening. Its so deadly and you never know when or where its going to strike. During deployments on Wednesday near the city of Sayre, OK, I called off a deployment because I felt that Rich and I would no longer be safe outside of the vehicle because of the high frequency and close proximity of lightning strikes. About 30 seconds later, our leader Chris Weiss was calling me and telling me to drop further south. What a difference those miles made. Once we retreated further south, the lightning was not nearly as active, and the threat of the approaching hail core was also diminished. After retreating several miles, we were able to safely begin our deployments again. And one of our probes was deployed within a few hundred yards of an FCMP (Florida Coastal Monitoring Project) disdrometer probe, and a CSWR (Center for Severe Weather Research) tornado pod. The mobile mesonet vehicles were also active on this road, and I saw several radars scanning as well, so a good, coordinated deployment was pulled off once again.

Despite the wild ride that night, all edition 2 probes (the probes that come out of my trailer) functioned fully, and there were just minor issues with the probes (connectors and switches to tighten). Trailer 1 had a Vaisala all-in-one sensor fail (for some reason these seem to fail frequently in heavy rain....its amazing to me that a weather instrument can't take some weather!!! What are these things supposed to be used for anyway!), but thanks to Brian and Ian, the sensor was replaced and the probe is operational again. By about 1 am on Thursday morning, we were ready for the next day's deployments.

Well, its about that time, to begin loading the luggage and getting the trucks ready for departure, to get back after it today. We'll let you know what we find....

1 comment:

  1. Facinating! Keep up the good work. Very cool that Tech is on the forefront of this research. Stay safe!