Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Blowin' In The Wind

A wind farm in northeastern Colorado

Today has been quite the day for me. I woke up at 3am EST, rode two hours to BWI, flew for four hours to Denver, waited two hours to get on my next flight, then spent an hour on my way to join the V2 crew. After I got to the airport, I waited another hour for my ride, then spent an hour riding to the actual location that everyone was stationed at. Ten minutes after I got to the crew, I was in the Probe 12 vehicle driving towards a potential microburst...

...It has been a LONG day!

When I got to Denver, I was excited to see the mountains off in the distance. The sky was pretty clear and I could see the snowcaps. Two hours later, as I walked outside to the plane, storms were brewing:

Storms developing over the mountains in Colorado

Curiously enough...this was the same group of storms that we were later aiming for in northeastern Colorado!

First good shot of the storm

We were pretty impressed with how high the cloud bases were for the developing storms:

Imagine a tornado popping out of the bottom of this cloud. As one person put it: "Tallest Tornado EVER"

To make a long story short, the storm was more impressive for photo opportunities than for microburst data.

Ok fine another picture.

The DOWs set up and the mobile mesonets ran a couple of transects, so it wasn't a total loss. I was just happy to be there and get a feel for how things work.

Another interesting thing in the area was the wind farms. Colorado is one of the top producers of wind energy in the United States, owing largely to consumer interest in renewable energy that started before going green was "cool." The U.S. Department of Energy determined in 2008 that 20% of our electricity needs should be met by wind power by the year 2030. With the rate that technology is improving in the arena and the need to update the transmission grid for all forms of power, I argue that this is a feasible goal. The physical area needed to produce that percentage of energy is smaller than the state of Rhode Island. Many projects are beginning offshore and in regions that are not highly populated (such as the area we were in today). Most states (the Department of Energy counted 35 in 2008) are already meeting a good portion of their energy needs by wind power; now it is time to go national.

Please be green. :)

Anyway that is my two cents on wind power. Today really was Wind's Day; high winds all day and overnight tonight too! Early to bed for me now, because I've been up for about 20 hours and have my first full day with the team tomorrow--woot! A woman stopped me in the elevator a few minutes ago and asked, "Are you with the stormchasers?"

Yes ma'am!


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