Vortex2 tornado study finally gets some twisters to study

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:56 PM GMT on June 08, 2009

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A proven way to reduce the incidence of dangerous weather phenomena is to schedule a multi-million dollar field experiment to study the phenomena. Up until this past weekend, that has certainly been true of this year's $10 million Vortex2 tornado study. The 7-week study (which also runs next year) has deployed an armada of over 100 storm chasing vehicles across the Great Plains this Spring, but has largely been frustrated by an exceptionally quiet tornado season. Tornado activity in May was less than half of what was observed last year in May, thanks to a ridge of high pressure that has dominated the weather. The residents of Tornado Alley ran out of luck over the weekend, though, as a strong low pressure system and associated cold front brought severe weather and multiple tornadoes to the region. Sixteen tornado reports were received by NOAA's Storm Prediction Center yesterday, and three on Friday. The team of University of Michigan students that has been writing our featured Vortex2 blog caught some excellent pictures of tornadoes on both Friday and Sunday. Yesterday was probably the last best chance for the Vortex2 project to document a strong tornado, since the project ends this Saturday and no significant tornado outbreaks appear likely for the remainder of this week.

Aurora, Colorado tornado yesterday
A tornado with a 3/4 mile wide debris cloud swept through Aurora, Colorado yesterday, staying on the ground for 8 - 11 miles and damaging a shopping mall, but causing no deaths or injuries. The tornado passed close to one of the high-resolution Terminal Doppler Weather Radars (TDWRs) that we now feature on our web site (see the radar FAQ for more details on these great new additions to our radar offerings). Posted below are the reflectivity and Doppler velocity images from the tornado, showing the amazing fine-scale details these high-resolution radars offer.



Figure 1. Radar reflectivity (top) and Doppler velocity (bottom) from the Denver, Colorado Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR), which caught the classic signature of a supercell thunderstorm tornado over Aurora, Colorado. A tornado dropped down from the low-level mesocyclone inside the parent supercell thunderstorm at the time of these images. Yellow colors located right next to greens/blues indicate that winds are moving towards and away from the radar in close proximity, the signature of strong rotation at low levels. Also visible on the plot are the winds spreading out from a downdraft on the rear side of the tornado. Black arrows denote the direction of wind flow. The dryline was bent back into a E-W orientation near Denver, creating an area of moisture convergence, which triggered thunderstorm formation.

Western Caribbean disturbance unlikely to develop this week
As area of disturbed weather over the Western Caribbean has brought rains of 2 - 3 inches over portions of Nicaragua and Honduras over the past few days. Wind shear is a high 20 - 30 knots over the disturbance, and no computer models are indicating that the disturbance will develop this week.

Jeff Masters, with help from wunderground's tornado expert, Dr. Rob Carver

Dying out after an official 24 minutes on the ground
Tornado (Fungus)
Tornado
Twisted (rrose1)
This was taken approximately 30 minutes after a brief tornado passed through South Hutchinson, KS tonight. The building is a bus manufacturing facility.
Twisted

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I wish you the best of luck in gynecology…but I really do think meteorology is your specialty.
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Quoting IKE:


Aren't you kind of skinny? Short hair?


Hrmph here I thought I was back behind a screen....
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
684. IKE
Quoting Levi32:


Ok that is just creepy. I personally removed that months ago! It's a horrid one too.


Aren't you kind of skinny? Short hair?
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting Levi32:


Ok that is just creepy. I personally removed that months ago!


It is under the recent photos section.
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she worked for an advertising agency which handle some fake butter product he shilled for...
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Taboo!
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Quoting futuremet:


I think it is in your blog...


Ok that is just creepy. I personally removed that months ago! It's a horrid one too.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
ive figured that florida schools would be more tropical based, and plains schools more tornados and super cells, but im guessing for all around meteorology psu, UM, and UW are probably the best
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Quoting Levi32:


I made the mistake of putting one up for a while lol.


I think it is in your blog...
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Well at least tell us Drak….is meteorology the field you are perusing for your life’s goal?


No. I'm going to be a gynaecologist.
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Quoting kmanislander:


I just happen to feel that the anonymity that comes from being shielded behind a screen handle tends to encourage a lot of the nonsense we get on the blog from time to time.



I think that would just add to the drama.
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Well at least tell us Drak….is meteorology the field you are perusing for your life’s goal?
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Quoting Drakoen:


I think i've seen a picture you before.


I made the mistake of putting one up for a while lol.
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vortex....my cousin dated him for a couple of years...he may very well be the dumbest person I've ever met...
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Quoting TampaMishy:
Hello everyone


Hello.
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Quoting Levi32:


Trust me....you do not want to see my picture...


I think i've seen a picture you before.
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Quoting Ossqss:


I used my mother-in-law at the beach !


You're mother in law looks like a walrus.
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
I am not entirely sure Drakoen has entered college yet. But who knows.


I think he is like 17 or 18 now... someone last year said he was 16.
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Hello everyone
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4 inch hail coming to I-57 watch out
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The sun sets at 8:13 here. And rises at 6:26 am. West Palm Beach, FL.
26° N
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Quoting kmanislander:


I just happen to feel that the anonymity that comes from being shielded behind a screen handle tends to encourage a lot of the nonsense we get on the blog from time to time.



Trust me....you do not want to see my picture...
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Quoting presslord:
kman....sadly, mine is of me...


I just happen to feel that the anonymity that comes from being shielded behind a screen handle tends to encourage a lot of the nonsense we get on the blog from time to time.

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Quoting presslord:
kman....sadly, mine is of me...


I used nevermind!
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Quoting Makoto1:
I couldn't imagine getting 19 hours of sun in a day... I get 15 and have 9-9:30 pm sunsets and people think it's amazing coming from farther south, I can't imagine 4 more.

Also, major Michigan bias here, I agree. I even lean that way and I live in Ohio.


You guys are leaving out University of Washington. If I'm not mistaken it's one of the "big three" colleges in Meteorology, along with Penn State and something else.
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Quoting presslord:
kman....sadly, mine is of me...


lol
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I couldn't imagine getting 19 hours of sun in a day... I get 15 and have 9-9:30 pm sunsets and people think it's amazing coming from farther south, I can't imagine 4 more.

Also, major Michigan bias here, I agree. I even lean that way and I live in Ohio.
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kman....sadly, mine is of me...
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Quoting Drakoen:
If I looked that creepy I would shoot myself.

Eternal sun Levi? Sounds fun


Except that you gotta deal with eternal darkness in the winter months. There's no free lunch.
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Va....on this website, I think there's a strong prejudice in favor of Univ of Mich...
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Quoting Levi32:


Our current sunrise is 4:49am and sunset is at 11:21pm. I'm at latitude 59N here in Homer. Further north they get eternal sun for a few months without setting.


Gosh the day must be really short in Winter...
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
I dont think drak is in college like me haha :)i have many meteorlogical schools in mind... ive heard alot about penn state are they the best in basic meteorology?


Or you could go to Florida State, I hear has a good program. And it's either the U. of Oklahoma or Ok. State that has a good school as well.

But going by your handle, I assume Penn Sate is the closest, and I have heard that they are the quite good.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
I dont think drak is in college like me haha :)i have many meteorlogical schools in mind... ive heard alot about penn state are they the best in basic meteorology?


Penn State is big. There's quite a few other good places though. Dr. Masters went to the University of Michigan, I'm planning to transfer over to Ohio University.. And I've heard good things about Oklahoma, Colorado State, and Ohio State (though I hate to admit it about that last one)
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If I looked that creepy I would shoot myself.

Eternal sun Levi? Sounds fun
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Perhaps all bloggers should be required to have an avatar that is an actual picture of themselves.
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Actually a big compliment.
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Quoting HurricaneGeek:


Are you far enough North that you get the midnight sun?
Because here in S. FL. at 8 pm it was still very light out. But I know you are quite a bit further North than I am.


Our current sunrise is 4:49am and sunset is at 11:21pm. I'm at latitude 59N here in Homer. Further north they get eternal sun for a few months without setting.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
91E exhibits cyclonicity in the mid-levels with low level turning.
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I dont think drak is in college like me haha :)i have many meteorlogical schools in mind... ive heard alot about penn state are they the best in basic meteorology?
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Looking pretty good out there on 91E for sure... We might get something, though it's in the Pacific so we'll still see mostly blob-watching.
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Quoting Levi32:


Not really we don't get the necessary atmospheric boundaries here, but we have an awesome lake-effect that rivals the Great Lakes. I've gotten 3 feet at my house in 6 hours.


Are you far enough North that you get the midnight sun?
Because here in S. FL. at 8 pm it was still very light out. But I know you are quite a bit further North than I am.
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I have secured from a secret source a picture of Drak..

img src="Photobucket" alt="" />
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Pat...you are so right....going into a disaster area unprepared is far worse than not going at all...
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Quoting GBguy88:


I meant Drak, but when in August? 21 on the 18th here.


I've never admitted my age. You must be referring to futuremet.
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Quoting Drakoen:


You must have had thundersnow?


Not really we don't get the necessary atmospheric boundaries here, but we have an awesome lake-effect that rivals the Great Lakes. I've gotten 3 feet at my house in 6 hours.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.