Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A New Hope

Dimmitt, TX 1995. Happy 15th Anniversary, VORTEX.

VORTEX2 implemented a new strategy today, 15 years to the day from the VORTEX (1)-saving tornado in Dimmit, TX. The final week or so of the original two-year VORTEX project was a Godsend to the program. Perhaps in honor of that blessed day, from now on we will no longer have 10:45 A.M. CST (or is it CDT right now?) general weather briefings. Instead, the PI (Principal Investigator) meeting will take place earlier in the morning and we will depart shortly thereafter, forecasting on the road like many amateur/professional chasers do. The idea is that this will allow us to pursue more distant targets that we might otherwise give up on. So far giving up on the distant target has, pardon my language, screwed us over at least two notable times while we watched in frustration from (both times) North Platte, NE. Remember the large wedge in South Dakota a couple weeks ago? "Too far away." The photogenic tornado in southeast Colorado a few days ago? "Unreasonable travel distance."

South Dakota, 5/22/10 (

Campo, CO, Memoral Day (

After these two iconic misses, the PI's have decided that we need to increase travel and decrease sleep for these last two weeks. I don't blame them; I wondered early on this year why we waited to leave until noon on days when we knew our target would be a great distance away. We've also not had another Goshen County, WY storm this year. That storm capped off the worst tornado season on record, and perhaps spoiled us a bit for this year. A lot of us (I know from personal parking lot discussions) expected Goshen County every week this year. We thought, "Hey, last year sucked because the weather sucked and there was nothing we could do. Now we'll be on every storm, in the right place, getting tons of data all the time!" Of course, with two weeks left in the project, crew morale has waned and everyone is getting a little desperate.

Hence the new strategy, or the new hope, if you're feeling optimistic and a little nerdy. My personal hope is just that our fearless leaders remember we're humans, not droids. We laugh, we cry, we actually lose a hand if you cut it off with a lightsaber. The Force that guides us also tells us to go to bed sometimes. We wish the character Jar Jar Binks had never been introduced to the series too.

Ok killing the Anyway, I for one will be consuming more caffeine than perhaps even during finals these next two weeks, and my exercise schedule went out the window (wait, did I say "schedule?" I meant "attempts to exercise depending on how long I am allotted to sleep each night"). I hope I have renewed your interest in the blog by putting in other people's tornado pictures today. I sure wish I had seen them and/or collected data on them too.

P.S. Day 1 of the new strategy did not result in a successful deployment. But we have driven about 1100 miles in the past two days!

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