After Hours

Tornado research

Dimmitt, TX Tornado, 1995

The Dimmitt tornado is one of the most thoroughly observed and studied tornadoes in history. Project VORTEX (Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment) is a joint research project of the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the University of Oklahoma and its Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (among other universities and groups).

VORTEX researchers wanted to know why some storms form tornadoes and others don't. With the help of an array of mobile storm chasing equipment and aircraft, they measured the tornadic column to be approximately nine miles high with winds of up to 175 mph. Sharp images were returned by the Doppler on Wheels, revealing hurricane-like inflow bands, a near circular eyewall, and a center almost clear of debris.

VORTEX 1 data was collected from 1994 to 1995, and VORTEX 2 kicks off this year in May.

By Selena Frye

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...