Saturday, May 8, 2010

First deployment and other travels

The first official deployment of VORTEX2 2010 was yesterday in northwestern Kansas near sunset. I wish I could offer exciting news about the deployment, but honestly I didn’t even take any pictures of the storm early on due to a very unattractive stratus cloud deck blocking our view of any defining features.

First let me back up a little. We ferried from Dodge City, KS to Clinton, OK and then back up to Woodward, KS a few days ago, presumably for the sake of driving around. In Woodward we reunited with the rest of the V2 crew before ferrying to Hays, KS, docking point for DOW missions in the pre-V2 days. Yesterday morning we had two options for deployments: northwestern Kansas (close to our location in Hays) or eastern Kansas. The first option gave us a chance to play off the triple point while eastern Kansas provided better moisture along the warm front. Most storms were unlikely to initiate until almost sunset or after, so the steering committee finally decided on the northwestern Kansas target so that daylight might play in our favor.

The mission began (at least on the radar frequency) mostly as a practice deployment for the instruments, particularly the radars. The cell we were casually eyeing became supercellular so we began moving towards it and were given instructions for a hasty deployment…in dime-sized hail. I’d like to say things went smoothly, but basically the mission was a chance to show everyone what we were doing wrong. As all the probes collected our mesonet, pod, camera, and GPS data on the way home we had a host of issues that still have not been completely resolved. We have an early morning meeting tomorrow to review all probe teams’ data. News I’ve heard from other non-CSWR teams includes 3 vehicles getting stuck in the mud, which could be a first for earliest stuck-in-the-mud vehicle in a season (we’re only a week in!).

So that small mission has been interspersed with more down-ish time. While awaiting instructions yesterday a few of us worked on papers and a couple hours later we had our first sketchy bathroom stop during the mission. This year we have more girls, so it was a kick to watch everyone’s reaction as a group to the outhouse/hole in the ground. Last night we were also privy to some major winds at the hotel thanks to nearby severe storms. There was a single tornado report yesterday in eastern Kansas, but it occurred in the dark when we would not have deployed. While ferrying today we stopped at the Montezuma wind farm south of Dodge City, KS and got some really neat pictures of DOW-7 right next to a turbine. The visit inspired me to work more on the wind farm paper I’m in the process of editing, because that’s one of the locations we discuss in the paper! I’m writing now from the back of Probe 12 as we move south to position for a potential Sunday mission, but Monday looks to be a really big day….

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