Friday, May 1, 2009

The VORTEX2 project is about to begin. We have been working on asking which questions about tornadoes are most important, designing VORTEX2, planning, writing proposals, gathering community input, more planning, etc. for several years. With substantial funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, several universities, government labs, and private companies are coming together to begin the largest, most ambitious tornado project ever. It all starts in several days.

I run the Center for Severe Weather Research in Boulder Colorado, and perhaps the largest individual group within VORTEX2. We will be fielding 3 radars, 4 mobile mesonet vehicles which deploy a total of 12 tornado pods, and support vehicles, operated by a staff of about 24, ranging in background from senior engineers and meteorologists, recent PhD's, to current graduate and undergraduate students.

We hope to leave Boulder very very soon so that we can get in a week of practice before
the main VORTEX2 operation starts. Preparations are ongoing at a frenetic pace. We're my dedicated, but a bit burnt out, crew is here from 0800 to 2300 every single day. (Is it a weekend? Not in the CSWR DOW hangar.)

I'll be introducing our vehicles, instruments and crew in upcoming posts. For now, just one
picture of our two new DOW radars. One is raised up next to the other since we had to drain all the diesel fuel from our newest truck so it could pass its initial registration weigh in (yep, it is legal to drain the fuel). We had to come in at 25,999 lbs or less, we squeaked in at 25,940.


  1. When I watch tornadoes from the US Midwest on YouTube, all the tornadoes spin the same direction--the debris runs in a counter-clockwise arc. I've seen video of only one tornado going clockwise, and the video was from Australia (although most of the Australian videos show tornadoes going ccw.)

    Why do almost all tornadoes go counterclockwise?

  2. This is very exciting! I'll be visiting often to share in your mission. Thanks for blogging about this!