Largest Tornado Study in History Taking Place in Tornado Alley

VORTEX 2 research runs until mid-June

By Samantha Davies
|  Wednesday, May 13, 2009  |  Updated 2:15 PM CDT
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Largest Tornado Study in History Taking Place in Tornado Alley

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The VORTEX 2 project will enhance our understanding of tornadoes.

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Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment 2 (VORTEX 2) is the largest tornado study ever to take place across the central United States, and it’s happening right now. VORTEX 2 is a $10 million study supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation. The experiment runs from May 10 through June 13. During these 7 weeks over 100 scientists in more than 40 storm chasing vehicles will deploy to locations in tornado alley that pose a significant risk for tornadoes.

The goal of this experiment is to gain a better understanding of tornado formation. Obtaining this research will better allow forecasters to assess the likelihood of tornadoes, their intensity, longevity, and cyclic behavior. Tornado warnings have an average lead-time of 13 minutes, and 70% of the times are false alarms. Improving the accuracy of Tornado warnings would help protect the lives and property of people in the path of deadly storms. 

This project consists of researchers at a permanent location collecting data, and mobile units collecting data while in direct contact with a storm. The VORTEX 2 operations center is located in Norman, OK at the National Severe Storms Laboratory. From this location researchers will use cutting edge technology to provide forecast support, logistical coordination, and act as safety net for scientists in the field. Based on the support from the NSSL mobile weather units will assemble around a tornadic super cell thunderstorm. By placing themselves to the south and east of the targeted area radar scans can gather important data about a storm structure, precipitation rates, and wind speeds.

The location of VORTEX 2 changes from day to day. To get a daily look at the VORTEX 2 and its whereabouts NBC 5’s national partner, The Weather Channel, will have streaming live video on line from 11am- 1pm at www.weather.com. More information on VORTEX 2 can be found at: www.nssl.noaa.gov/projects/vortex2/. Pictures of VORTEX 2 can be seen at: https://secure.nssl.noaa.gov/v2gallery/.
 

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