Texas Tech group participates in historic tornado study - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/4/09

Texas Tech group participates in historic tornado study

LUBBOCK TX, (KCBD) - A group of 20 from Texas Tech will join together with a handful of universities and federal labs from across the country to study tornados.  This nationwide project is the largest attempt to study these severe storms in history.

Brian Hirth is a graduate student at Texas Tech University and is ready to study tornados as a part of the Vortex2 project. "I remember as a kid being deathly afraid of thunderstorms and growing up that just evolved in the fascination of severe weather and it just kind of continued on through my schooling," said Hirth.   

Hirth along with 19 others from Texas Tech will head to Norman, Oklahoma on Wednesday. The Vortex2 Project brings together universities and labs from all over the globe.  "We'll travel wherever the atmosphere tells us that can be anywhere from North Dakota, down towards Missouri, as far west as Eastern New Mexico up into the Eastern Colorado area," said Texas Tech team leader Chris Weiss.   

The original Vortex project took place in the mid 90s.  "What we understand currently about the tornado genesis came from that original project, well 15 years later we have a lot more technology to throw at the problem and a better scientific base of our understandings," said Weiss. 

Texas Tech will be contributing some of the new technology like Stick Nets which are weather instruments that can determine why tornados form and a mobile radar unit Sr. Research Adviser Jerry Guynes designed.  "This is one radar with the highest resolutions in existence right now for a mobile research platform," said Guynes. 

During the five week project the team hopes for slow moving, large tornados that develop over open country.  "The take away here eventually if we improve our understanding of tornados that will improve our lead time on warnings and also decrease our false alarm rate on warnings so that the population can be adequately warned so they can take shelter and we can save lives," said Weiss. 

Texas Tech also tells us the video shot during the study will be put together by NBC for a documentary that will air in the fall.

Web Extra: Uncut Video from Severe Weather on the South Plains
Check out exclusive, un-cut video from the storms that marched their way across the South Plains.

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