Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Balloon Launchers! (Posted by Adam F.)

We had our first NCSU crew swap just about a week ago, and Katie, Graylen and Nate are fitting right in as members of the MGAUS team. Here are some picture from operations in Kansas this past week with the "newbies".

Nate and Graylen fill a balloon while Lou from NCAR looks on.

Johannes provides some guidance while Katie and Graylen attach the sonde:

Graylen sends the balloon sky-ward:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Very Windy Day (posted by Casey L)

Hi everyone,

It's continued to be extremely busy for VORTEX2 the past couple of weeks. Yesterday was an extremely challenging day for our team. We were operating in Nebraska along I-80, battling sustained surface winds of at least 40 mph, and gusting above 50! As you can imagine, launching a weather balloon in such conditions was quite difficult. We ended up launching in teams and coming up with some creative ways to get the launch done successfully. Below is a video of NCSU student Adam French and two NCAR techs Heather and Bryan working together to get a launch off.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Last week's adventures (posted by Matt Morin)

Tuesday May 11th, 2010: Casey Letkewicz (NCSU) and Jen Standridge (NCAR) launch a radiosonde to measure a vertical profile of the pre-storm atmosphere in Clinton, OK.

Tuesday May 11th, 2010: MGAUS team member, Johannes Dahl (NCSU) watches storms develop off in the distance in western Oklahoma.

Wednesday May 12th, 2010: Radar image of our target supercell in western Oklahoma during one of our deployments. My position is indicated by the “NSSL2” marker to the southeast of the southern storm. The red polygons you see in the image represent areas under a severe thunderstorm warning, while the pink polygon represents a tornado warning. On this day, NSSL2 was in charge of launching weather balloons in the far-inflow region of the supercell.

Friday May 14th, 2010: If you squint and look in the center of this photo, you will see a tornado, which touched down in the vicinity of Midland, TX in the early afternoon. This is the second one I’ve seen first-hand in my life and I would have taken better pictures, but duty calls and I needed to get in position for our next launch.

Saturday May 15th, 2010: I took this photo on the top floor of our hotel in Midland, TX. This is not even all of the VORTEX2 armada, which consists of around 50 vehicles as well as over 100 scientists from organizations around the world. I think it would be great if someone (with more authority than me) would organize a group photo of all VORTEX2’s vehicles and people in the near future.

Saturday May 15th, 2010: MGAUS vehicles nicely lined-up while the team waits to deploy to the next site in southeast New Mexico.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Very Busy Week (posted by Casey L)

Hi everyone,

Sorry there's been a lack of updates on here. This past week VORTEX2 has operated 5 out of 7 days, one of which was the Oklahoma/Kansas outbreak last Monday. Thankfully, everyone made it out safe, but there were certainly some tense moments. As a result of chasing so much, we've had little energy to continually write updates on all our activities. However, today was declared as a down day so we have a little bit of time to catch up.

The armada spent the first few days of last week operating on a number of storms in Oklahoma. As I mentioned, this did include Monday's outbreak, but operations in general were a bit chaotic as numerous storms producing large tornadoes formed not only formed quickly but also moved at speeds near 50 mph. No one on NC State's team was in a position to see any of the tornadoes, but we were all thankful to just get through the day safely and collect some data.

On Tuesday and Wednesday the action shifted to western Oklahoma, where there were very successful deployments on supercells, one of which produced a tornado in Clinton, OK. The tornado occurred near dusk, however, so visibility was such that few people saw the funnel. Here is a panoramic view of the storm from my position in Clinton, shortly after I launched a balloon and about 30-45 minutes before the tornado passed through the area:

Later in the week we shifted south into western Texas, where two of the NC State teams saw a tornado on a storm that formed early in the day on Thursday:

Later on this storm merged with numerous others and became a squall line, making operations difficult for some teams, and also producing flash flooding throughout western Texas. In fact, we had to use some creative navigating to get around closed streets in order to get to our hotel:

Yesterday we ended up operating in southeastern New Mexico (a first for me!). The storm wasn't too exciting, but despite the small probability of tornadoes, we nevertheless collected some useful data on a dying storm.

I think that's about everything...this coming week also looks to be very busy, but we'll try to update as best we can!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Round two today

The team is safe and sound after a day of operations on dangerous tornadic storms in Oklahoma. More to come, but our hotel has had no power all night and operations are expected again today (Tuesday) so this update must be brief. The damage nearby is humbling. --Parker

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More highlights from training day (posted by M. Parker)

As we rev up for our first potential science mission tomorrow, here are a few more photos of our preparations.

Test launch (posted by Matt Morin)

Since our group arrived in Oklahoma late last week, we've kept ourselves fairly busy with preparations for this year's field project. With no significant thunderstorm activity within the VORTEX2 storm chasing domain, there has been plenty of opportunity to check and double check our communication systems, mobile soundings equipment, as well as our own readiness to perform balloon launches in the field. The picture in the upper-right corner shows our group listening intently to Tim Lim's instruction of the launch procedure. For some of us, this is a welcomed review, for others, a first-time live demonstration of what they have only heard about over the past year. In this particular picture, Tim Lim (front) positions the radiosonde on the aspirator so that the weather instruments can acclimate to the ambient environment. This test launch was the only launch so far this season. In the weeks to come, I'm sure you'll see similar pictures to the one above, but with more interesting weather in the background.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ready to rock and roll

We're on the ground in Norman, waiting to see what we'll be doing today and for the next few days. The forecast doesn't look as promising, so it's entirely possible that we'll be sitting tight for a few days, which isn't a necessarily a bad thing since it will give us a chance to do some more "shake downs" and testing of our equipment. We did a quick run through of sounding procedures yesterday, a refresher for those of us returning, and a learning experience of the newbies on board. All told we seem to be in good shape to start the season, now we just need some storms!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

2010: Let's do it again! (posted by M. Parker)

The NC State mobile soundings team will be heading back out to the Plains for another round of VORTEX2 in 2010. Departure is just days away, and the campaign officially begins on May 1st. Stay tuned!