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XKCD Tornado Hunters

VORTEX2: Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment

VORTEX2 Quick Facts

Media Day

10 a.m. to noon, May 8, 2009, National Weather Center, 120 David L. Boren Blvd., Norman, Okla.

Dates of operations

May 10–June 13, 2009
May 1–June 15, 2010

Area of focus

Southern South Dakota, western Iowa, Nebraska, eastern Colorado, Kansas, Texas panhandle, western Oklahoma


National Science Foundation offsite link warning (NSF)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offsite link warning (NOAA)

Lead Principal Investigators

Erik Rasmussen, Rasmussen Systems
Joshua Wurman, Center for Severe Weather Research

Participating Organizations

Purpose of VORTEX2

  • Investigate tornadogenesis - from a few tens of minutes before the tornado forms through the first several minutes of tornado life
  • Study tornado structure
  • Look at the relationship between tornadoes, their parent thunderstorms, and the larger-scale environment

Benefits of VORTEX2

Data collected in VORTEX2 will help researchers understand:

  • How tornadoes form
    • to better assess the likelihood of tornadoes in thunderstorms
    • to advance our ability to forecast tornado intensity and how long tornadoes will last
  • How the large-scale environment of thunderstorms is related to tornado formation
    • to better relate future climate changes to possible changes in tornado frequency and intensity
    • to increase tornado lead time

What does VORTEX2 mean to the average person?

This research will help National Weather Service forecasters issue future tornado warnings with details such as when and where a tornado will touch down, how long it will last, and how intense it will be.

What is a "Wow!" fact about VORTEX2?

Numbers!  VORTEX2 operations will span 900 miles from north to south, require 50 hotel rooms each night and a parking lot to handle 40 vehicles. 

What's special about VORTEX2?

VORTEX2 is the largest and most ambitious field project ever to collect data on tornadoes.

Where will mission operations be? 

Mission operations will have a fixed base at the VORTEX2 Operations Center at the National Weather Center in Norman, Okla.   However, the Field Command vehicle (FC) will make most of the decisions for the experiment...out in the field!

Where will data analysis happen?

Each scientist involved is collecting data for their own particular project, so they will analyze the data at their home institutions. 

When are first results expected?

Penn State University will host a preliminary research workshop in Fall 2009 to share what VORTEX2 participants have learned so far and to begin planning for 2010 operations.