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What is VORTEX2?

VORTEX2 is by far the largest and most ambitious effort ever made to understand tornadoes.
We expect over 100 scientists and over 40 science and support vehicles to participate in this unique, fully nomadic, field program during its second and last field season, May/June 2010. The National Science Foundation (NSF) foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are contributing over $10 million towards this effort. Participants will again be drawn from over a dozen universities, and several government and private organizations. International participants will be drawn from Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and Australia.

The basic questions driving VORTEX2 are simple to ask, but hard to answer:

- How, when, and why do tornadoes form? Why some are violent and long lasting while others are weak and short lived?

- What is the structure of tornadoes? How strong are the winds near the ground? How exactly do they do damage?

- How can we learn to forecast tornadoes better?

Current warnings have an only 13 minute average lead time and a 70% false alarm rate.
Can we make warnings more accurate?
Can we warn 30, 45, 60 minutes ahead?

VORTEX2 will use an unprecedented fleet of cutting edge instruments to literally surround tornadoes and the supercell thunderstorms that form them. An armada of 10 mobile radars, including the Doppler On Wheels (DOW) from the Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR), SMART-Radars from the University of Oklahoma, the NOXP radar from the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), radars from the University of Massachusetts, the Office of Naval Research and Texas Tech University (TTU), 12 mobile mesonet instrumented vehicles from NSSL and CSWR, 38 deployable instruments including Sticknets (TTU), Tornado-Pods (CSWR), 4 disdrometers (University of Colorado (CU)), weather balloon launching vans (NSSL, NCAR and SUNY-Oswego), unmanned aircraft (CU), damage survey teams (CSWR, Lyndon State College, NCAR), and photogrammetry teams (Lyndon State Univesity, CSWR and NCAR), and other instruments.

VORTEX2 is fully nomadic with no home base. Scientists will roam from state to state following severe weather outbreaks through the Plains.

VORTEX2 will hit the road again for its final season from 01 May - 15 June 2010.

Updated VORTEX2 Domain

More about Vortex2 . . .

35 science vehicles and platforms
Steering Committee
Principal Investigators
       80 Scientists / Crew

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