Researchers are about to embark on a new research project aimed at understanding the relationships between severe thunderstorms and how tornadoes form across the Great Plains with the goal of improving forecasts.
Researchers are kicking off #TORUS19, an #NSFfunded project w/@NOAA support, with an open house from 11-1 at the @SalinaAirport TODAY. Visit the @NOAA_HurrHunter & other #wx instruments! https://t.co/mcUgpFETcm pic.twitter.com/d6msJl4fcS
— NOAA NSSL (@NOAANSSL) May 14, 2019
The upcoming project, Targeted Observation by Radars and Unmanned Aircraft Systems of Supercells, or TORUS, was discussed during a news conference earlier today (Tuesday, May 14th) and was followed by a public open house.
Its media day for the #TORUS19 project! If you’re in or near Salina, KS come by and say hi, take a look at the equipment, and learn about the science objectives of the mission. @NOAANSSL @NOAAResearch @OUCIMMS pic.twitter.com/i7tSEha0Ov
— Sean Waugh (@MesonetMan) May 14, 2019
The TORUS project involves more than 50 researchers using 20 tools to measure the atmosphere, including unmanned aircraft systems, mobile radars and NOAA’s WP-3D Orion “Hurricane Hunter” aircraft. Fieldwork will be conducted starting Wednesday, May 15th. The project will continue until June 16th throughout a 367,000-square-mile area of the Central Great Plains from North Dakota to Texas and Iowa to Wyoming and Colorado.
This is what 200 hrs of work in the last two weeks alone gets you: a fully functional and ready to roll fleet of science equipment ready to take on severe weather. #TORUS19 starts tomorrow, and @NOAANSSL and @OUCIMMS are ready to roll. #science #wx #observations pic.twitter.com/CQyIngmIeu
— Sean Waugh (@MesonetMan) May 13, 2019
Multiple research teams will follow severe thunderstorms to study how factors like wind speed, temperature, humidity and pressure may reveal the small-scale structures in a supercell storm and how it contributes to tornado formation. The goal is to use the data collected to improve conceptual models of supercell thunderstorms. Aims of the project include measuring and observing the frequency of changes in the atmosphere and relationships between the different atmospheric boundary layers.
Roughly a dozen radar, ballooning, unmanned aerial vehicle, and ground-based observations teams will travel into the storm, along with a team in the NOAA P-3 Hurricane Hunter flying just outside the storm, to provide a data-driven, multi-dimensional view of each storm system.
— Robb (@DoubleBnICT) May 14, 2019
Among the tools used in the project are swarms of radiosondes that take measurements of the atmosphere. The radiosondes are attached to balloons that are much smaller than traditional weather balloons. As many as 100 can be tracked within the storm at once.
Funded by NOAA and the National Science Foundation, the project is led by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Partner institutions are the University of Colorado Boulder, Texas Tech University, NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory, NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, and the University of Oklahoma Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies.
Edited for WeatherNation by Meteorologist Mace Michaels