Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Hilton, home, a new friend, some aliens, we do it all!

It been another week packed with action for the V2 teams. We have officially passed the 1/3 mark of the project, and have already deployed almost as many StickNets in the past two weeks as we did for the entire season last year. That means that we're getting a lot of data, but unfortunately, many people have suffered because of the active weather season.

Since you last heard from us, we left Oklahoma, returned to Texas, operated in New Mexico, had a few nights at home, did some more operating in New Mexico. I'll try to summarize some of our outings.....after our travel day to Midland on Thursday, we operated southwest of Midland along the I-20 corridor on Friday. This was a particularly challenging day, as storm initiation began rather early in the day, and many updrafts popped up in the area. Our team saw at least one tornado to the west of Odessa, and may have seen a second, but we were not close enough to tell it if actually made contact with the ground, so we won't count it. The StickNet teams made a full deployment of probes and Ka-1 was also operating nearby. The tornado was not on the ground as it passed through the StickNet array, but funnels were spotted in the near vicinity and directly overhead.

On Saturday, we operated north of Carlsbad, NM. The supercell was a good-looking storm, coming off the higher terrain. The teams deployed on two seperate roads north of Artesia. But as the storm approached, it began dying right before our eyes, evaporating the base away. My team actually made a new friend, a friendly little dog who wondered over to investigate us. She hung around with us for about 30 minutes as we waited for further instructions. She was very nice, but seemed scared at first. I was so worried about her being next to the road, but she would follow me off of it after a while. I felt terrible leaving her there, and was wishing we were closer to home and our friend Simon, who rescues stray dogs. I would have taken her to him. At the end of the night, we treked back to Midland for the third night in a row. Which, by the way, if you're ever in Midland, the downtown Hilton is pretty nice, and they were super-accommodating for us, renting an extra parking lot across the street so we could park all the big vehicles, and made everything easy for us.

On Sunday morning, we got the word that we were going home! It was decided that it would be a travel day to Lubbock for the armada, so we bolted! We made it home around 1:00, but we had some work to do before parting ways. We washed all four trucks, both trailers, and one radar. At the same time, we had a group of people inside working on the probes, repairing connectors, loose plugs, and had Ian building a new tripod to bring 215A back to life. Half the group headed home around 3:30, and the rest followed about 2 hours later. I was responsible for running some V2 errands after dropping my laundry off at home. I took, a trailer tire to Firestone to get repaired, which unfortunately it couldn't be because we had a screw in it too close to the edge. And, because it was Sunday, they couldn't get a replacement tire for it from the warehouse until Monday, and not in time for us to get it replaced, so lucky we have a few more spares. I also had to pick up some new Texas maps for my truck and our FC truck. At home, I mowed the lawn, helped with the laundry, then met some fellow V2-ers for dinner at a hibachi grill, and then down to Broadway.

Monday, oddly enough, brought us back to New Mexico! We began by treking to Tatum, then pushed further west to Caprock, then even further so to Roswell. Roswell, if you don't know, is like the UFO/alien capital of the country. We passed the museum and many shops selling alien gear. My team was stationed on the south end of Roswell, positioned to deploy probes to the south, SN2 was stationed north of town positioned to deploy to the north. FC and SN3 moved further south, and it was almost unbelievable to watch.....they deployed on exactly the same road, and exactly the same spot as they did on Saturday. This was an incredibly tough operations day, as the majority of the armada, including our FC vehicle had little or no communications for over an hour. They had no internet, no cell phone coverage, and limited radio contact. They were unable to communicate with my team and SN2, so we remained up by Roswell for the entire event, and didn't make any deployments, but the southern two teams got a few probes in. This storm gave a hard hit to the V2 armada, as many people found themselves in ping pong and golfball sized hail. Our vehicles were undamaged, but reports indicate that 10-15 teams lost windshields yesterday. Hail is a walking advertisement for StickNets.....you don't have to sit there and get pulverized by hail to collect valuable data, and we were fortunate to have escaped with no damage.

After yesterday's event, we made the 3 hour trek back to Lubbock, while the rest of the armada hoteled further north. When we got back to our Reese facility, we had more insturments to fix, and realized that yet another Vaisala all-in-one probe was beginning to fail. It did not report any wind data, only themodynamic data. We've just about had it with these instruments. We've replaced all of them at least once, and have made many modifications to them to make them better, but they still fail. When the first group of them began failing, Vaisala claimed it was likely due to water intrusion, so we made seals and rings and used grease to make them more water tight. Strangely enough, in their next edition of the instrument, Vaisala had used many of our fixes. Again, this is a weather instrument, so how can it not work in weather?! These are meant to be placed outside, and outside gets storms! Argggg...we have shipped back the three that we have replacede in the last two weeks, so we're hopeful that they will replace them and we can pick them up on our next trip to Lubbock, whenever that may be......

We're back on the road this morning, looking to operate further to the north. If you live in the panhandle areas, make sure you're paying attention over the next few days. We'll be active....which means the weather could be severe. We're out there really trying to make a difference.

1 comment:

  1. We had a blast following you guys yesterday! Umm, yeah, about the hail ... our van took quite a pounding! But no broken windshield, thank goodness! You guys ROCK.