Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gnarly Deployment

After rejuvenating in Lubbock and fixing instrument issues from the night before, the team was primed and ready to hit the road (05/17/2010). The morning started out with sunshine and not a cloud in the sky. One could not imagine that such a gorgeous day could produce the weather that ensued later in the afternoon.

From Reese Technology Center we departed for Muleshoe, TX to post up and get word on our target location for the day. The rest of the armada had stayed in Clovis, NM for the evening and had no plans of meeting up with us in Muleshoe. Upon arriving in Muleshoe, we were informed that we had plenty of time to kill so one of our very own recommended that we stop at a Mexican restaurant named Leal's. Most opted out of the recommendation but a group of us decided to indulge and we were not disappointed. The cuisine was delectable and I highly recommend anyone to stop by Leal's if you are passing through Muleshoe, TX.

After lunch, our target location became Vega, TX which lies west of Amarillo, TX on I-40. We did not post up in Vega long before hedging further north to Channing, TX where the entire armada parked on the side of the road. It was quite the scene watching the entire armada traverse the road together. In Channing, local and non-locals came out to investigate why we were located in their town. We embrace these interactions with locals and non-locals because it gives us the opportunity to inform them about the purpose of the our research and give them a little heads-up about the impending weather situation for the area.

After sitting in Channing for about 40 minutes, a supercelluar thunderstorm began to percolate and operations commenced! My team (StickNet 4) was instructed to bust north and east towards Dumas, TX and head north of out Dumas until further instructed. Once we arrived at our target latitude north of Dumas, we were mandated to begin deploying southward with 3 mile spacing in accordance with StickNet 2. We are always tethered to StickNet 2. They have an AED and are pretty much our lifeline when in distress.

Fortunately for Tanya and I, we did not have to take on any dangerous lightning or hail. We remained dry throughout our entire deployment. The only real challenge that we faced was determining where to deploy our StickNet probes because we try to avoid power lines and buildings that obstruct wind flow or pose as threats to our instruments. Thus, we decided to deploy in the medians.

Given that we were deploying with 3 mile spacing, we had to be mindful of StickNet 2 and their deployments because we did not want to deploy on top of them. They were instructed to deploy with 1 mile spacing and so keeping good communication was vital. Ultimately, we decided to withhold deploying our last two probes until ripping through Dumas. On the south side of town, we proceeded to drop our last two probes and then we turned around and watched our beast of a storm pass over our array. We could not have deployed any better than we did! It was a textbook operation.

Parked a few miles south of town, we watched a massive wall cloud pass through town and the inflow into the storm was incredible! Even more interesting was the exponential increase of traffic density around us. One man said that he had rushed to grab his 81 yr. old mother before the tornado reached town to get her to safety. Another couple had been traveling from South Carolina and had never been to Texas or seen a tornado before so they were flabbergasted. On the whole, it seemed that most people south of town would not dare enter town with the ominous storm approaching Dumas.

What caught my attention the most on this day besides the weather situation was a particular chaser who decided to impersonate civil service vehicles. This chaser thought that using a siren to weave through dense traffic is appropriate...THIS IS ILLEGAL! These types of chasers continue to give responsible storm chasers a negative reputation. We use rotating lights on top of our vehicles for safety purposes but we do not expect people to pull over for us nor do we try to impersonate any civil service personnel. Moreover, this reckless act clearly defines the difference between chasing and researching.

On the whole, the data set collected from yesterday's storm was probably the second best data set collected between the two phases of VORTEX2. I am sure Pat Skinner will be able to talk more about what was discovered during the radar deployments on this storm, but one of our probes (0221) recorded a max wind speed of 35.8 m/s which is roughly 80 mph. We are quite excited about this data set and are striving to collect even more research grade data sets.

Until next time..............

1 comment:

  1. I'm looking forward to reading more about the radar data and your research. Keep up the fantastic work!!