NSSL Hot Item

VORTEX2 preparations intensify

NSSL and their partners are gearing up for the largest field project in history to study tornadoes. VORTEX2, the Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment-2 will focus on answering new questions about how, when, and why tornadoes form, why some thunderstorms produce tornadoes and others do not, the structure of tornadoes, and the relationship of tornadic winds to damage. Answers to these questions will improve forecasts and warnings of tornadoes.

VORTEX2 is a carefully planned field experiment that will target a potentially tornadic storm and canvass the area with an fleet of mobile radars, minivans equipped with instruments, instrumented weather balloons, and even unmanned aerial vehicles. VORTEX2 will operate in the Great Plains from May 10 through June 13, 2009.

Recent and current activities include:

The VORTEX2 steering committee met in Boulder, Colo. in late February to present individual projects, strategies and scientific objectives. Participants also talked about operations details, information flow, and deployment issues. Five NSSL staff attended.

The Norman NOAA Communications Team is preparing to launch a VORTEX2 website in mid-March reaching out to the media and general public. The official VORTEX2 website is hosted at http://www.vortex2.org.

A VORTEX2 Media Day will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, May 8 at the National Weather Center, 120 David L. Boren Blvd., in Norman, Okla. Interested media will have the opportunity to tour VORTEX2 research vehicles and interview VORTEX2 researchers and teams. Watch for more information.

NSSL engineers are outfitting research vehicles with cutting-edge communications systems and weather instruments. Vehicles will be shakedown-tested during April and early May.

Background: VORTEX2 is funded by the National Science Foundation and NOAA.

Significance: Understanding how and why tornadoes form will lead to improved forecasts and warnings of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, saving lives and property.