Friday, June 5, 2009


My first

Finally!!! We moved into Wyoming, not far from the Nebraska border and saw our first tornado of the season, and my first tornado EVER! I was riding with CU, so I actually participated in deploying both pods and disdrometers. The pods measure atmospheric variables like wind speed and direction, temperature, and relative humidity. The disdrometers are unique to CU, who are interested in measuring the size of the raindrops, hail, and other particles that make it to the ground near the storm.

Classic hook echo, indicative of rotation

We deployed two pods and two disdrometers to the south of DOW7, then hurried up to the top of the hill to join DOW7 and its followers to get a good view of the wall cloud and rotation. And man did we! Not long after we parked the funnel attempted to reach the ground, failed…then succeeded! Despite our orders to “not cheer for tornadoes,” you could hear the crew cheering all up and down the road. As I sat there in the field (really, I took a seat) watching it grow, I looked at Rachel and said “…what’s it doing?” She goes “What do you mean?” “Well, a minute ago it was just hanging out right there, then it moved there…and now it’s just getting bigger.” A couple minutes later we all jumped in our cars and moved north to safety, because at that point the tornado was moving towards us and was only 3km away! As we took off Rachel said “A general rule…when the tornado isn’t moving right, and it isn’t moving left, and it appears to be getting bigger…that usually means it’s moving straight towards you.”

The tornado was on the ground for about 15 or 20 minutes! It was the first tornado intercept by the DOWs in Wyoming. Afterwards we recollected our instruments and moved after the storm again. We took some “hen egg” size hail and deployed the pods and disdrometers a couple more times. Some curious people followed our vehicle, and the last time we got out to deploy a young 20-something couple sitting behind us yelled “You guys rock!!! How do you get your jobs?!”

Same storm, dying.

Now we’re waiting for a potentially tornadic storm over Ogallala, NE to pass through so we can continue our 3-hour journey to our hotel.

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