Tornado research has been an integral part of the work done by NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory for many years. Tornadic storms are rare, unpredictable, and deadly, but our knowledge is improving over time. From gathering data in the field to analysis and discovery in the Lab, NSSL scientists endeavor to address the mysteries that remain and advance understanding of these weather processes. Ultimately this targeted research will improve tornado forecasts and save lives.

The VORTEX project began in 1994, with the objective of explaining how tornadoes form. The two-year field project resulted in ground-breaking data collection and led to several follow-up studies in the late 1990’s. The VORTEX2 field project debuted in 2009 and continued through Spring 2010, with scientists hoping to understand how, when, and why certain supercells produce tornadoes.

In 2016, NSSL researchers embarked upon VORTEX Southeast, the latest field project to examine tornadic storms. In this research program, scientists seek to understand how environmental factors in the southeastern United States affect the formation, intensity, structure, and path of tornadoes in the region. VORTEX-SE was also the first VORTEX experiment to emphasize societal impact, with social scientists studying how the community receives and responds to warnings.

Stay tuned. You won’t want to miss a minute of this exciting research!