VORTEX 2: The Calm Before the Storm

Posted on: May 9th, 2010 by Jonathan Merage 6 Comments

It’s been some time since I’ve posted here…the storm season has so far been unusually benign and with final VORTEX2 preparations underway the forecast once again calls for a long week of chasing, documenting and studying whichever monster supercells we’ll be able to keep up with.

While our excitement levels are surging to an electrifying peak this week’s forecast models depict an alarming situation for damaging storms with potentially numerous powerful tornadoes poised to leave lengthy paths of destruction across the heart of tornado alley– uncomfortably close to populated & congested metropolitan areas.

The usual speculations exist of strong tornadoes and/or large hail hitting town centers like Oklahoma City or surrounding suburbs and further north/northeast into southern Kansas & eventually beyond. One of the higher concerns for our research armada and the nearby communities will be fast storm motions with forecasts now showing storm speeds of around 40 kts (nearly 50 mph!). Needless to say, such speeds on likely destructive tornadic storms going into the night is unnerving.

This year, our role as vehicle Probe 8 will be sampling the small & short-lived Descending Reflectivity Core, inflow and surging mini gust front as it travels cyclonically around the tornado and moves toward and eventually into the storm’s dark core. Our Professors at the OU School of Meteorology have a renewed focus in this area which they believe to hold key information as to the strong thermodynamics & locations of specific air masses circulating around the tornado. More info on this soon.

Today’s AM Briefing in Amarillo, TX

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