6.1 The Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes 2 (VORTEX2)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011: 8:30 AM
Urban Room (William Penn Hotel)
Joshua Wurman, Center for Severe Weather Research, Boulder, CO; and L. J. Wicker, Y. P. Richardson, E. N. Rasmussen, P. M. Markowski, D. C. Dowell, D. W. Burgess, and H. B. Bluestein

This presentation will describe the second Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment, VORTEX-2, the field phases of which occurred in 2009 and 2010. The VORTEX2 experiment was designed to explore (a) the mechanisms of tornadogenesis, maintenance, and demise, (b) the wind field near the ground in tornadoes, (c) the relationship between tornadoes and their parent thunderstorms and the relationship among tornadoes, tornadic storms and the larger scale environment, and (d) how to improve numerical weather prediction and forecasting of supercell thunderstorms and tornadoes.VORTEX-2 was by far the largest and most ambitious observational and modeling study of tornadoes and tornadic storms ever undertaken.It employed fourteen mobile mesonet instrumented vehicles, eleven ground based mobile radars, several of which were dual-polarization and two of which were phased-array rapid-scan, five mobile balloon sounding systems, thirty-eight deployable in situ observational weather stations, unmanned aerial systems, video and photogrammetric teams, damage survey teams, deployable disdrometers, and other experimental instrumentation as well as extensive modeling studies of tornadic storms. Participants were drawn from over 20 universities and laboratories, and at least five nations.Over 60 students participated in field activities. The VORTEX-2 field phases spanned two years in order to increase the probability of intercepting significant tornadoes, which are uncommon.VORTEX-2 made special efforts to operate near a unique, extensive, and diverse network of stationary instrumentation in Oklahoma including a phased array radar, an array of small stationary radars, a prototype dual-polarization operational radar, and a statewide mesonet.The project also made special efforts to operate in regions where unmanned aerial system flights were permitted.

The 11 mobile radars, including the two C-band OU SMART-Radars, three X-band DOWs from CSWR, the X-band NOXP from NSSL, the X-band MWR-05XP from CIRPAS, the X-band XPOL and a W-band radar from UMASS, and two K-band radars from TTU may represent the most extensive ever concentrated deployment of research radars for fine-scale multiple-Doppler and multiple-frequency observations. In addition, one SMART radar, two DOWs, NOXP, and XPOL were dual polarization systems, and the MWR-05XP and Rapid-Scan DOW were active/passive phased array systems capable of ~10 s volumentric scanning. These several radars permitted unprecedented observations with different resolutions, different coverage areas, shifting coverage areas on propagating storms, and multiple-frequency/dual-polarization observations.

Data were collected in dozens of supercell thunderstorms and over a dozen different tornadoes.These included the violent and fatal Oklahoma City tornadoes of 10 May 2010, the Goshen County / Lagrange tornado of 5 June 2009, and several other tornadoes that are obscure now, but will likely become well known to science because of the VORTEX2 data sets collected. These include several more tornadic storms observed with integrated observations during 2010, including the Clinton/Weatherford tornadoes on 12 May 2010, the Dumas tornadoes of 18 May 2010, the Kingfisher tornadoes of 19 May 2010, the Tribune tornadoes of 25 May 2010, and the Booker tornadoes of 13 June 2010.The data in several other non-tornadic or marginally tornadic supercells will permit VORTEX2 researchers to study the differences between storms that make tornadoes and those that do not, thereby allowing for more accurate warnings.

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