June 3, 2011
Experts told him he was out of mind to even try it. It would never work, for so many reasons, they said. But Josh Wurman, who was then a young and reckless meteorologist just out of MIT, did it anyway. And in the process he wound up revolutionizing the way scientists study deadly tornadoes.
Today the DOW concept has been cloned by institutions including the University of Alabama, Texas Tech University, University of Massachusetts, University of Oklahoma, as well by meteorologists in Asia and Europe. In addition to tornadoes they track hurricanes, snowstorms, wild fires, air turbulence, and more. There were 12 DOWs in use at VORTEX 2, which trumped VORTEX 1 as the largest scientific study of twisters in history. The DOW is now considered a National Science Foundation Facility, which means that they are supported by the NSF and researchers anywhere in the country can request to use a DOW for study.