Nebraska Leads TORUS Storm Chasing Research
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is leading the most ambitious drone-based investigation of severe storms and tornadoes ever conducted. The project will exceed $2.5 million, with the National Science Foundation awarding a three-year, $2.4 million grant and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration providing additional financial support. The project aims to improve severe weather forecasting.
icon search Searchable Transcript
Toggle between list and paragraph view.
[00:00:02.410]It's a Nebraska evening and the storm rolls in.
[00:00:06.450]It was really just an incredible experience and--
[00:00:09.080]Jamie Foote remembers it well.
[00:00:10.923]The University of Nebraska Lincoln senior,
[00:00:13.540]spent part of her summer chasing storms.
[00:00:17.090]The very first day, we are in the storm in Cook, Nebraska
[00:00:22.400]and we go and transect the storm,
[00:00:24.690]come back out and go on this road.
[00:00:26.390]Then this giant tornado comes down right next to us
[00:00:29.370]and I'm like, "Oh my gosh, this is amazing."
[00:00:32.380]And it was breathtaking.
[00:00:33.880]Armed with high-tech equipment and drones,
[00:00:36.810]the team covered 9,000 miles in five states
[00:00:40.640]on the trail of supercells.
[00:00:43.990]A supercell thunderstorm is a thunderstorm
[00:00:46.210]that possesses storm scale rotation.
[00:00:50.320]So this is not a tornado but this is larger scale rotation.
[00:00:53.310]This is literally the scale of the storm itself.
[00:00:55.950]It also tends to produce the largest hail.
[00:00:58.470]It tends to produce the most damaging tornadoes.
[00:01:00.780]So these are storms that are important
[00:01:03.800]for the people who are affected by them.
[00:01:07.670]The goal of the research
[00:01:09.020]is to better understand these powerful storms,
[00:01:12.200]especially the ones that produce tornadoes.
[00:01:15.173]By improving our understanding,
[00:01:16.611]we can translate that to improved forecasting.
[00:01:19.350]The UNL led TORUS project involves more than
[00:01:22.510]50 scientists from four institutions.
[00:01:25.410]TORUS stands for Targeted Observation by Radars
[00:01:28.860]and Unmanned Aircraft Systems of Supercells.
[00:01:31.949]This contains the temperature and humidity sensors.
[00:01:35.470]SUV's are fitted with instrumentation
[00:01:38.080]used to collect data.
[00:01:39.740]Then up on top, we have where we're
[00:01:41.910]measuring wind speed and direction.
[00:01:47.710]Four drones and a manned aircraft
[00:01:49.900]provide another view of the storms.
[00:01:52.750]The drones are important because with these vehicles,
[00:01:55.090]we're only taking measurements at the surface.
[00:01:57.610]We don't know what's going on higher up in the storm.
[00:02:00.980]So, having the drones in conjunction with these vehicles,
[00:02:04.950]we know what's going on both at the surface
[00:02:06.900]and slightly higher in the storm.
[00:02:09.480]To really dig into the structures of these storms,
[00:02:12.700]and relate the ones that produce tornadoes
[00:02:14.390]to the ones that don't produce tornadoes.
[00:02:16.660]Call me crazy, but I love it. (laughs)
[00:02:18.830]Students like Faye Shanti
[00:02:20.480]gain experience in the field
[00:02:22.450]while contributing to important research.
[00:02:25.200]I'm normally the driver.
[00:02:28.280]I enjoy being able to keep everyone safe
[00:02:31.430]while we're in the storm area
[00:02:33.440]and I also enjoy being able to
[00:02:35.260]just be a part of gathering this data
[00:02:37.040]and to be a part of that,
[00:02:38.300]is something that's just truly amazing.
[00:02:40.260]Funding for the TORUS project
[00:02:41.780]comes from the National Science Foundation
[00:02:44.090]and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
[00:02:47.840]Scientists hope to reduce the number
[00:02:50.070]of false alarm tornado warnings
[00:02:52.220]and improve the technology used for weather forecasting.
[00:02:58.210]The technology we use, particularly the unmanned aircraft,
[00:03:00.510]the drone technology, could someday be used
[00:03:04.560]in the next generation meteorological surveillance network.
[00:03:07.820]As we advance our understanding
[00:03:10.020]of how to use these aircraft,
[00:03:11.660]not just the understanding of the storm itself,
[00:03:13.300]but how to use these aircraft,
[00:03:14.490]we can contribute to that conversation.
[00:03:18.030]A Nebraska thunderstorm is nothing new
[00:03:21.070]but understanding what's behind and inside that storm
[00:03:25.220]could help save lives.
Log in to post comments