Texas Tech Wind Researchers Prepare for Nationwide Tornado Project
April 28, 2010
Team readies army of StickNets and radar vehicles for second phase.
Texas Tech University wind researchers will take part in phase two of the collaborative
nationwide project exploring the origins, structure and evolution of tornadoes.
The project, Verification of Rotation in Tornadoes EXperiment2 (VORTEX2 or V2), runs
from May 1 through June 15 in the central United States. This spring’s activity is
phase two of the largest and most ambitious attempt to study tornadoes in history
and will involve about 100 scientists and 40 research vehicles, including 10 mobile
Texas Tech returns to the field with its two observing platforms. StickNet represents
an array of 24 durable tripoded observation stations, individually deployed in the
path of tornado-producing storms to measure the temperature, pressure, humidity and
wind. The second platform includes the two TTUKa mobile Doppler radars that will make
remote measurements of the horizontal and vertical structure of tornado cyclones.
Christopher Weiss, assistant professor of atmospheric science at Texas Tech, will
lead a team of 18 faculty, staff and students into the field; six will be with the
TTUKa radars, 12 with StickNet.
“When the project begins, we will travel wherever conditions are most favorable for
tornadoes, anywhere from Texas to South Dakota,” Weiss said. “We will generally have
a feel for regions of interest the day before the event, but will not have a specific
target until the morning of the potential event.”
Scientists will sample the environment of supercell thunderstorms – violent thunderstorms
capable of producing damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes – that form over more
than 900 miles of the central Great Plains. Areas of focus include southern South
Dakota, western Iowa, eastern Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, the Texas panhandle and
The VORTEX2 project is an outstanding opportunity for student researchers to get hands-on
experience in the field, said Tanya Brown, a doctoral candidate in wind science and
engineering. She has been participating in TTU’s severe thunderstorm research efforts
since 2007 and will lead one of four StickNet teams in the 2010 phase.
“Field research at Texas Tech is unique because of the large participation and responsibility
given to the students,” Brown said. “Texas Tech graduate students are more involved
in the data collection, analysis, instrumentation and maintenance than at any other
Keep up with the Texas Tech team on its blog
, view photos on Flickr
, and follow them on Facebook
. Also, look for the Texas Tech VORTEX 2 team on The Weather Channel beginning May
For a complete list of participating scientists, and to learn more about the experiment,
visit the V2 site http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/projects/vortex2/
and the official project website http://www.vortex2.org/
Find Texas Tech news, experts and story ideas at www.media.ttu.edu.
CONTACT: Chris Weiss, assistant professor of atmospheric science,Texas Tech University,
(806) 742-4712, or firstname.lastname@example.org.