Texas Tech team makes most of Vortex 2 project - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/8/09

Texas Tech team makes most of Vortex 2 project

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By Ann Wyatt Little - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Vortex 2 is a huge field research project for tornadoes. It's a large armada of dopplers, and researchers including a very experienced group from Texas Tech. With only days left in the project, NewsChannel 11 spoke with the storm chasing team.

The Texas Tech crew is on the road heading towards Selina, Kansas to position themselves for Tuesday storms. They say Mother Nature calls the shots and they simply follow the weather.

"We move with the weather patterns and for the first three weeks of the project there was not much support from atmosphere to generate storms," says Dr. Shroeder from the interstate in Kansas. But on Friday, June 5th their luck changed in a rural area north of Cheyenne, Wyoming

It was on the ground and Vortex 2 researchers had their cameras rolling to capture the storm they classify as a classic tornado with high winds, massive rotation and hail. The Texas Tech Atmospheric Science Research Group was right there to catch the action and by phone told NewsChannel 11 about the project and Friday's funnel in Wyoming.

"Friday was very optimal. It was long lived, isolated, and there was no damage. Its isolated nature allowed us to approach it the way we want to," says Dr. Shroeder. He says his team needs about 30 minutes to get ahead of a storm so they can deploy various instruments to collect data. Data he says will hopefully save lives.

"Why one tornado forms in a storm? And why another doesn't produce a tornado. Hopefully we can improve warning time and mitigate destruction," says Dr. Shroeder. In the army of 40 vehicles out on the project, there are five full of Tech equipment, graduate students, and faculty members.

Dr. Shroeder says life out on the road is tough, but the opportunity to contribute to a historic research project is worth it. The Vortex 2 project wraps up June 13th, but if there is an active storm on the 14th and the Tech team happens to be close, they say it will be hard to head straight home. The team expects to have logged 10,000 miles by the time they pull back into Lubbock.

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