Saturday, May 1, 2010

Vortex2 begins!!!

Hi everyone! I wanted to give you a quick update while I back blog the road trip from Alaska. I am down here in Norman, Oklahoma, and today was the official start date of Vortex2! Now while you're probably thinking we are in Arkansas going after the tornadoes there, we are unfortunately not. Below is a schematic of our 'domain'. Our domain was created to cover areas with plenty of roads and high visibility, since what we're doing is on the risky side. Therefore, where the storms are in Arkansas today is too hilly for us to chase. Also, we cannot chase in the dark because it is too dangerous not having daylight visibility.
So what am I doing exactly? I am on the PSU/NSSL mobile mesonet team, consisting of 6 minivans with elaborate weather stations on the top. Our goal is to record data from the outflow of tornadoes as we literally drive as close as safely possible to the storms. That being said, we are just driving the entire time when on a storm. Therefore, I will not likely be able to do any jumping photos in front of a tornado - bummer. Below is an idealistic schematic of our deployment. I am driving P4 - which is the vehicle to the north of the rotation. Sounds like it is difficult to actually keep this formation since roads don't exactly run east to west and north to south.This morning to blow some time, I took a self-guided tour of the National Weather Center here in Norman and said hi to Dorothy, the bad-guys-from-Twister's instrument, and the real original Vortex tornado pod. The pod used back in the original Vortex experiment weighed 400 lbs. Can you imagine trying to roll that off of a truck into the path of the tornado? Me either. I can't wait to meet the people who were there for the first Vortex to hear the stories. I am not sure how much the current tornado pods weigh.
The building comes complete with a Chickfila in the Flying Cow Cafe.
And, now! The mobile mesonets!!
I get to drive a black van, which means I get to be the bad guys from Twister. Jackpot!

On a completely different note, since we were bumming around Norman (which I have really, REALLY been enjoying), Chris organized some of us to go to a minor league baseball game of the Oklahoma City Redhawks. They lost, but we had fun.. and it was Star Wars night - which was entertaining. As you can see, Jango Fett (better Joey and Reed??) posed for me. I felt a little bit underdressed for the occasion.
Here's the baseball game crew - Andrew, Richard, me, Chris, and Derek.
I never thought I'd say this, but Oklahoma is actually a lot of fun. I mean, how could you not have fun when everything is low-key, you're staying in hotels with running water and swimming pools, making new friends and seeing old ones, no one is forcing you to wake up until a weather briefing at 10am, and you're living a dream you've had for nearly 15 years. Norman itself is a really nice town, and the OU campus is awesome. I don't know why I envisioned something totally different, but I'm glad those uneducated assumptions have been washed away.

Here is the 2010 Vortex2 field catalog if you are interested in following us. We're also on the Weather Channel a lot.

And I guess I should make a disclaimer that anything I say on here is not representative of NOAA/NSSL/PSU/Vortex2 and all that. I like to think people reading this blog are smarter than that, but it's not a bad thing to clarify.


J Mays said...

Wow, you managed to combine storm chasing and Star Wars. So jealous. However, as a Star Wars fanatic and an ubergeek, I feel it necessary to point out that that is NOT Boba Fett. That would be his father, Jango Fett. I'll let that slide this time, Julie. Haha. So anyway, have a great time! Kelly and I wish we were doing this with you! Sounds like a blast! We'll be watching for you on The Weather Channel!!!

Julie said...

HA!! Thanks, Joey! Wish you two were down here too - you would fit in well with the hearty wx nerd group!

theorbo said...

So exciting! Sounds like an wonderful time already!

Kelly said...

Cooooool! I did have fun in Norman. (perhaps too much?) I'm glad you have an open mind :) (and I bet you are too) Have fun m'lady. I'll be living vicariously thru you (and Danny) for the next couple of months!

oh, p.s....Are you going to re-activate your spot page so we can see where the chase team sets up camp each morning? That would be sweet.

Patty V said...

Reed wanted you to know that is not Boba Fett, It's Jango Fett.
Boba Fett does have a much cooler outfit.


Patty V said...

PS - I like that you said you get to be one of the bad guys from twister, haha!