Riding into the storm to raise the bar in research - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Riding into the storm to raise the bar in research

Using remote sensing technology called LIDAR, the team will get a better handle on wind measurements. (Source: WAFF) Using remote sensing technology called LIDAR, the team will get a better handle on wind measurements. (Source: WAFF)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

A group called Vortex Southeast is coming to town, and they intend to raise the bar in terms of tornado research. 

We've seen our fair share of severe weather in the Tennessee Valley, and the goal of the new project is to increase the lead time for you to get into safe shelter. 

In a moment's notice, you're likely getting into your safe place when a tornado strikes, but Vortex Southeast is heading straight into the twister. 

"Depending on where we think the action is going to be, we like to put our resources there to make the measurements that need to be made," said Kevin Knupp, professor of atmospheric science at University of Alabama-Huntsville.

Using remote sensing technology called LIDAR, the team will get a better handle on the vertical variation of winds in the boundary layer. Knupp says the lower level of the atmosphere will be their focus in relation to topography to better dissect the storm from the ground up. 

"This area around Huntsville is a unique experimental area because it varies from relatively flat to the west in Limestone County, for example, to quite hilly in Jackson County, to a feature that adds Sand Mountain in DeKalb and adjacent counties," Knupp said. 

Knupp goes on to explain how the project will help predict storms with greater confidence - with the benefit of reducing the false alarm rate of tornado warnings.

"I think lead times up to an hour in some cases, when you start to integrate special radars and profiling systems with numerical models that can simulate in the near future the evolution of storms," said Knupp. 

To really understand the footprint of tornadoes, Vortex Southeast will rely on you as a Citizen Scientist to report damages in real time. The National Science Foundation has expressed interest in funding the project later down the road.

Copyright 2015 WAFF. All rights reserved.
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