Friday, April 30, 2010

Dashing Through the Snow

We awoke to snow this morning. That's right, we kicked off the second phase of the largest tornado study in history with a little winter precipitation. The mountains were beautiful and the 8-year old in me that gets excited to see snow perked up, but I did not waste suitcase space packing long-sleeved shirts. I have t-shirts and a North Face fleece. Today was a very cold day.

That was the most exciting thing that happened today, and I have some beautiful mountain pictures I'll upload later. Despite an early morning at the hangar I spent most of the day working on odds and ends: filling up containers with diesel fuel, tightening cables up in probe vehicles, buying large folding tables at Home Depot, and kicking off catering with a fun trip to Safeway. Lindsay and I had been through catering last year, but Erin and Mareike (a student from Germany who is in the States for her first time) were along for the ride. We buy enough food for ~34 people (much less today) to make their own sandwiches and have chips, cookies (Oreos...there always has to be Oreos), a veggie platter, fruit, hummus, yogurt...and anything the team in charge of buying groceries that day feels like throwing into the mix. This can be helpful on chase days to avoid long lines with 100 people waiting for McDonald's, but also involves a lot of planning and time setting up and taking down tables and food. Our crew today did a good job; we received many compliments on our food choices!

Because we are working in a hangar at an airport, the inevitable happened today. A brand new airplane had to be hauled out of the hangar and tested in the parking lot. That cut into a bit of our work time today as we moved materials out of the plane's path and watched the owner experiment with it. A media crew from Japan is also following us for a week or so again this year. As I remember, they were out with us last year and the whole stormchasing concept was intriguing to the foreign audience, so it appears they've returned. Yesterday I explained to a man and a woman translating for him what purpose each mesonet instrument served and gave a little background on the different radars and other odds and ends about the project. They were enthusiastic and so was I, which always makes for good conversation.

My dad is a pilot so I was not as excited about taking pictures of the plane as everyone else. This shot courtesy of Matt.

We were released fairly early tonight and a large group went to a pub right outside the hotel for dinner. There was a good band and good food, but we all were ready to call it an early night with the expectation of a long day tomorrow. Eric has also come down with something and was quarantined earlier today; he ventured out for dinner and tried to talk to Matt and me at our three person table (very odd set-up for an 11-person group) but still has a very sore throat. Hopefully a day of rest has done him well; we'll be returning to the hangar at 9 a.m. tomorrow.

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