Scientists to launch new tornado research mission

Researchers are about to embark on a new research project aimed at understanding the relationships between severe thunderstorms and how tornadoes form across the Great Plains with the goal of improving forecasts.

The upcoming project, Targeted Observation by Radars and Unmanned Aircraft Systems of Supercells, or TORUS, will be discussed during a news conference followed by a public open house.

The TORUS project involves more than 50 researchers using 20 tools to measure the atmosphere, including unmanned aircraft systems, mobile radars and NOAA’s WP-3D Orion “Hurricane Hunter” aircraft. Fieldwork will be conducted May 15 to June 16 throughout a 367,000-square-mile area of the Central Great Plains from North Dakota to Texas and Iowa to Wyoming and Colorado.

Funded by NOAA and the National Science Foundation, the project is led by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Partner institutions are the University of Colorado Boulder, Texas Tech University, NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory, NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, and the University of Oklahoma Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies.

News conference, public open house, equipment tours

Tue., May 14

10 a.m.-11a.m: Media briefing followed by a question and answer session, interviews

11 a.m.-1 p.m.: Public Open House; Viewing of unmanned aircraft systems, mobile radars and other instruments; Tours of NOAA’s WP-3D Orion “Hurricane Hunter”

Salina Regional Airport, Hangar 600, 2720 Arnold Court, Salina, Kansas

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NEWS CONFERENCE MEDIA ADVISORY: Researchers test unmanned aircraft systems

Researchers test unmanned aircraft systems for measuring the lower atmosphere, potentially improving short term weather forecasts

Researchers from NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory, The University of Oklahoma, University of Colorado and Meteomatics have begun a project to test the value of airborne, mobile observing systems for observing important changes in the local environment that can spawn severe thunderstorms.

During EPIC, the Environmental Profiling and Initiation of Convection field project, researchers will deploy fixed-wing and rotary small Unmanned Aircraft Systems today through May 20 at and near the Department of Energy’s Southern Great Plains site in Lamont, Oklahoma, and at a second site near an Oklahoma Mesonet station chosen each day. Timing and location of activities will be coordinated with the NOAA National Weather Service Norman Forecast Office, which will be receiving data from the instruments in real time for evaluation.

During the news conference, researchers will discuss their operational plans and project goals. Equipment on display will include the three systems being deployed:

  • Meteodrone rotary UAS from Meteomatics
  • CopterSonde rotary UAS from The University of Oklahoma
  • TTwistor fixed-wing UAS from the University of Colorado

News conference to discuss operational plans and project goals
Equipment displays

10 a.m., Friday, May 12

National Weather Center
Ceremonial Drive (circle drive by the flagpoles)
120 David L. Boren Blvd., Norman, Oklahoma

Colorado University’s TTwistor will be used in EPIC. (Photo provided)
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