Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Final Expedition of VORTEX2 Hits the Road this Saturday

This Saturday, May 1 VORTEX2 [Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes], a historic, epic and ambitious project chasing and analyzing tornadoes throughout the nations mid-section, will enter its final season, which ends on June 15. The $10 million project, funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), kicked off last year and is fully nomadic with no home base. Over 150 scientists using over 40 science and support vehicles, will roam from state to state following severe weather outbreaks throughout the region. Their fleet consists of cutting edge instruments to literally surround tornadoes and the supercell thunderstorms that form them.

VORTEX2 began last year and comes on the heels of
VORTEX1, which took place during the severe weather season's of 1994 and 1995. VORTEX2 is a much expanded project and kicked off in the 2009 season and will conclude this year. The basic questions driving VORTEX2's agenda are:
  • How, when, and why do tornadoes form?
  • Why are some tornadoes violent and long-lasting while others are weak and short lived?
  • What is the structure of tornadoes?
  • How strong are a particular tornadoes winds near the ground?
  • How exactly do the winds from a tornado do damage?
  • How can we forecast tornadoes better?
  • Can we make tornado warnings more accurate, and can we warn 30, 45, 60 minutes ahead of one?

On a final note, the 2009 season of VORTEX2 started slow but ended incredibly -- and I watched it LIVE via The Weather Channel on June 8 when VORTEX2 intercepted a tornado in Wyoming and Nebraska. It was totally, amazingly and absolutely AWESOME! Check it out here...