CAN YOU TELL WHEN THE ATLANTIC, OR PACIFIC, RISES OR FALLS A DEGREE IN TEMPERATURE?
CAN YOU CATCH A HAILSTONE AS IT PLUNGES TO EARTH?
CAN YOU HEAR A RAINDROP, FALLING INTO THE OCEAN?
THESE ALMOST SOUND LIKE ZEN RIDDLES OR A "MISSION" TRULY "IMPOSSIBLE."
BUT IN FACT THEYRE JUST THE KIND OF DETAILS WEATHER AND CLIMATE SCIENTISTS NEED TO KNOW.
COMPUTER MODELS START WITH OUR BEST UNDERSTANDING OF HOW THE WEATHER WORKS
THEN ADD AS MUCH CURRENT DATA AS THE RESEARCHERS CAN GATHER
AND EARTHS FASTEST COMPUTERS CAN HANDLE!
WITH LUCK, AND SKILL, THE RESULT IS A FAIR APPROXIMATION OF THE WEATHER AND CLIMATE TO COME NEXT DAY, AND SOONNOAA HOPESNEXT YEAR AND NEXT DECADE!
BUT FIRST YOU HAVE TO GET THAT DATA.
AND THAT PASSION FOR ACCURATE, CURRENT DATA IS WHY MORE THAN 200 NASA AND NOAA SCIENTISTS HAVE SET UP CAMP ON TINY KWAJELEIN ISLAND IN THE PACIFIC
ITS THE REASON WHY NOAAS FLAGSHIP, THE "RON BROWN," THE LARGEST IN ITS FLEET, WILL COME TO SHORE FOR JUST 4 DAYS IN 2 MONTHS
SPENDING LONG, LONELY WEEKS PATROLLING THE OCEAN, SCANNING THE SKIES WITH DOPPLER RADAR
THEYRE HERE TO GET "GROUND TRUTH", TO CALIBRATE INSTRUMENTS ABOARD THE US-JAPANESE TRMM SATELLITE.
Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM)
LAUNCHED AS A SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENT, TRMM HAS BECOME WHAT NASA CALLS "THE FIRST WEATHER RADAR IN SPACE."
INCREASINGLY NOAA AND NASA RESEARCHERS USE TRMM AS AN >OPERATIONAL< SATELLITE, USING ITS AMAZING SLICES THROUGH CLOUDS TO HELP PREDICT THE WEATHER.
AND THE MORE THEY RELY ON TRMM, THE GREATER THE NEED TO MAKE SURE THEY KNOW JUST WHAT THEYRE SEEING.
KWAJEX science coordinator, Univ. Washington
Sandra Yuter sync, transcript
Nobodys actually looked at this kind of information in clouds, in these kinds of clouds. We have lots of information over the U.S. and lots of information near land. But the clouds over the tropical ocean, which is where we are now, are a little bit different, and thats why were here.
MINI-BLIMPS EQUIPPED WITH INSTRUMENTS
RAIN GAUGES AND MANY OTHER SURFACE INSTRUMENTS.
BUT MOST IMPORTANT ARE THREE PLANES, DESIGNED TO FLY RIGHT THROUGH STORMS TO SAMPLE RAIN AND HAIL.
By flying these guys along, we are able to look at the whole profile of whats going on in the cloud
THE DC-8 FLIES THROUGH THE TOP OF A STORM
THE TINY "CITATION", PACKED WITH INSTRUMENTS, FLIES THROUGH THE MIDDLE
We want to try to improve the computer programs that the TRMM satellite uses to estimate the rainfall at the surface and we have a lot of unknowns about is going on in the cloud. And this coordinated kind of sandwich measurement allows us to find out that type of information.
PERHAPS MOST AMAZINGLY THE "CONVAIR" FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON CAN ACTUALLY SPIRAL DOWN INSIDE A CLOUD, TRACKING WATER MOLECULES AS THEY FREEZE AND MELT, TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS OF INDIVIDUAL ICE CRYSTALS!
BUT EVEN THIS METEOROLOGICAL MAGIC IS NOT ENOUGH.
JEFF NYSTEUN WANTS TO SUBMERGE MICROPHONES IN THE OCEAN, AND LISTEN TO THE SOUND OF RAINDROPS!
Senior Oceanographer, NOAA
Weve discovered that different sized raindrops make different sounds under water. So we can actually listen for small drops and for big drops.
Jeff Nysteun continues
And by listening to the level of sounds we can count the number of raindrops present, and that allows us to actually measure rainfall rates using the underwater sounds.
WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO KNOW?
montage of mayhem
IT'S CALLED "EL NIÑO", SPANISH FOR "THE CHILD", BECAUSE SOUTH AMERICAN FISHERMEN NOTED UNUSUALLY WARM WATERS OFF THE COAST AROUND CHRISTMAS TIME, BIRTHDAY FOR THE CHRIST CHILD.
WARM WATER, FLOATING ON TOP, CHOKES OFF THE UPWELLING OF COLDER, NUTRIENT-RICH WATERS FROM DOWN BELOW...
...THE FISHING GETS REALLY BAD.
BUT THAT'S NOT ALL.
IN AN EL NIÑO, ABNORMAL WIND PATTERNS CAUSE THE MONSOON RAINS TO FALL OVER THE CENTRAL PACIFIC, INSTEAD OF INDONESIA AND AUSTRALIA, LEADING TO DROUGHTS AND FOREST FIRES.
ON THIS SIDE OF THE PACIFIC, THERE ARE FLOODS IN SOUTH AMERICA.
IN NORTH AMERICA FLOODS IN the SOUTH EAST AND CALIFORNiA, AND MAJOR STORMS in the Northeast.
THE PHENOMENONS BEEN OBSERVED FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARSBUT ONLY WITH THE ADVENT OF SATELLITES AND SOPHISTICATED DEVICES TO TRACK CHANGES IN THE TEMPERATURE OF THE OCEAN, HAVE WE BEEN ABLE TO SEE AND REALLY UNDERSTAND WHATS GOING ON.
IT TURNS OUT THAT EL NIÑO, AND ITS TWIN SISTER, LA NIÑA, ARE THE SECOND MOST POWERFUL INFLUENCE ON EARTH'S WEATHER, AFTER THE SUN AND THE SEASONS.
EL NIÑO EVENTS OCCUR ON AVERAGE EVERY 3 TO 5 YEARS, THOUGH THERE CAN BE PERIODS OF UP TO A DECADE WITHOUT AN EL NIÑO.
OVERALL, THE LOSS TO THE GLOBAL ECONOMY AS A RESULT OF THE 1982 EL NIÑO AMOUNTED TO MORE THAN $8 BILLION.
BUT IN ANOTHER DEMONSTRATION OF GLOBAL CONNECTIONS, A STRONG EL NIÑO MEANS ITS GOING TO BE A WEAKER HURRICANE SEASON.
EL NIÑOS SHIFT THE JET STREAMS SO THAT THEY RIP THE TOPS OF DEVELOPING THUNDERSTORMS BEFORE THEY CAN GROW INTO HURRICANES.
1982-83 WAS ONE OF THE STRONGEST EL NIÑO'S ON RECORD, AND MADE THE WORLD'S WEATHER RESEARCHERS AND FORECASTERS PAY ATTENTION.
THIS NETWORK OF BUOYS OUT IN THE OCEAN WAS ONE RESULT, AS WELL AS A POWERFUL NEW SET OF EYES IN THE SKY, THE NASA SATELLITES THAT HAVE GIVEN US THESE AMAZING IMAGES
SO BEFORE THE 1998-99 EL NIÑO HIT, NOAA WAS ABLE TO ALERT AMERICA AND THE WORLD TO WHAT WAS ABOUT TO HAPPEN.
FISHERMAN AND FARMERS, HOME OWNERS AND EMERGENCY MANAGERS, FOR THE FIRST TIME HAD A SENSE OF WHAT WAS GOING TO HIT THEM.
IT WAS THE FIRST SCIENTIFIC "CLIMATE FORECAST" EVER, AND ALMOST CERTAINLY SAVED BILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND MANY LIVES.
EL NIÑO¹S TWIN SISTER IS LA NIÑA, "THE LITTLE GIRL".
HER EFFECTS ARE THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF EL NIÑO'S.PRECIPITATION IS BELOW NORMAL IN CALIFORNIA AND THE SOUTHEASTERN U.S. AND LA NIÑA YEARS, LIKE 1999, RESULT IN MANY STRONG HURRICANES.
SO WE THINK WE HAVE A PRETTY GOOD FIX ON EL NIÑO
NOW RESEARCHERS ARE HOPING TO DEPLOY SOME OF THE SAME DEVICES TO HELP US UNDERSTAND WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE ATLANTIC.
THATS WHAT THEYRE HERE IN THE IVORY COAST, WEST AFRICA.
WHY WEST AFRICA? BECAUSE THE STORMS THAT FORM HERE CAN SOMETIMES TRAVEL ACROSS THE ENTIRE ATLANTIC, BECOMING THE POWERFUL HURRICANES THAT RAVAGE CENTRAL AND NORTH AMERICA IN LATE SUMMER AND FALL.
THE RESEARCHERS HOPE TO DISCOVER WHETHER THERES A TELL-TALE CLUE IN CHANGING ATLANTIC TEMPERATURES, JUST AS THEY FOUND A SIGNATURE IN THE PACIFIC TO INDICATE THE FORMATION OF AN EL NIÑO.
ABIDJAN, LARGEST CITY IN THE IVORY COAST.
THEY CALL IT "THE PARIS OF WEST AFRICA" WITH WIDE BOULEVARDS AND LOTS OF TRAFFIC.
IN THE MARKETS THE PRODUCE OF THE RICH RAINFOREST FARTHER INLAND.
CHANGES IN SEA TEMPERATURES ALSO DRIVE THE CYCLE OF FLOOD AND DROUGHT IN AFRICA, ANOTHER REASON FOR THIS EXPEDITION.
Office of Global Programs, NOAA
What we are doing here in Abidjan is an international project involving the United States, Brazil and France. Were deploying moorings, "Atlas" moorings, across the Equator, North and South of the Equator in the Atlantic, and this is historic.
The scientific community has now learned where to put the stethoscope to get a better handle on the role of the ocean and its linkage with the atmosphere, which collectively give us climate.
NOAA PROVIDED THE SAME TYPE OF BUOYS AS THOSE DEPLOYED ACROSS THE PACIFIC.
THE FRENCH CONTRIBUTED THIS RESEARCH CATAMARAN, THE "ANTEA."
Ocean temperatures are critical in climate work. And it is interesting because only one degree Celsius shift at the surface temperature of the ocean can upset the relationship of the ocean with the atmosphere, and thats critical because in the El Niño years we have seen shifts as high as 5 degrees Celsius above normal, and even up to 9 degrees above normal down in the water column.
BUT THERE WERE PROBLEMS. THE BUOYS WERE READY AND WORKING.
BUT THE "SHIP" WAS NOT IN "SHAPE."
"These engines from a motor/voiture."
THE ENGINES NEVER DID GET FIXED.
IN CUTTING EDGE SCIENCE, NOT ALL FIELD CAMPAIGNS SUCCEED AT LEAST, NOT AT FIRST.
LATER IN THE FALL SOME OF THE TEAM WAS BACK, AND THE BUOYS WERE DEPLOYED.
SOON, THEY HOPE, THERELL BE DATA TO MATCH THAT FROM THE PACIFIC.
TO READ MORE ABOUT TRMM AND THE KWAJELEIN EXPERIMENT, CHECK OUT LINKS FROM THE "LIVE FROM THE STORM" WEBSITE.
BE SURE TO READ ALAN NELSONS FASCINATING JOURNALS OF THIS "FIELD" CAMPAIGN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN.
THEY USED TO SAY, "JOIN
THE NAVY AND SEE THE WORLD." BUT AS YOU CAN TELL, THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO
STUDY WEATHER AND CLIMATE WITH NOAA AND NASA CAN ALSO FIND, AS THE NAVYS
NEW RECRUITING SLOGAN SAYS
"ITS NOT JUST A JOB, ITS AN
WHEN WE THINK OF EXTREME WEATHER, PERHAPS WE THINK FIRST OF HURRICANES AND TORNADOES BUT WINTER STORMS CAN BE EVEN MORE DEADLY.
ICE DOWNS TREES AND POWER LINES
TRANSPORTATION SKIDS TO A HALT
HAIL POUNDS CROPS
WINTER STORMSCALLED NOREASTERSATTACK THE EAST COAST
PEOPLE DIE ON THE ROADS AND SHOVELING SNOW.
MOIST AIR FROM THE ATLANTIC SLAMS INTO COLD AIR FROM THE ARCTIC.
NICKNAMED "WHITE HURRICANES", THEY PACK ENERGIES MUCH LIKE THOSE LATE SUMMER STORMS.
OUT WEST, MOISTURE FROM THE PACIFIC BRINGS SNOW TO THE MOUNTAINS OF CALIFORNIA AND THE ROCKIES.
HOWLING THROUGH MOUNTAIN PASSES, WINDS REACH OVER 100 MILES AN HOUR!
19TH CENTURY RUSSIANS CALLED THE COLD AND THE SNOW WHICH HELPED DEFEAT INVADERS "GENERAL WINTER."
NOW, IN EARLY 2000, HERE COME NOAAS "WEATHER WARRIORS" TO BEGIN A NEW SKIRMISH IN THE BATTLE TO UNDERSTAND SNOWSTORMS .
ONE SQUAD COMES FROM NOAAS NATIONAL SEVERE STORMS LAB., IN NORMAN, OK
OTHERS WERE DRAFTED FOR THE DURATION FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
STUDENTS WERE RECRUITED FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH, AND SHOWN THE ROPES BY VETERANS OF MANY A LONG CAMPAIGN.
THIS WAS "METEOROLOGY BOOT CAMP" WITH LONG HOURS, LATE NIGHTS ANDSOMETIMESEXTREME CONDITIONS.
So what Im gonna do is, look everyone, I want us to go thissa way (gestures) So this is for real
LIGHTNING EXPERT DAVE RUST DRILLS HIS YOUNG TROOPS IN HOW TO PREPARE LARGE BALLOONS FOR LAUNCH IN SHIFTING WINDS.
LIKE SOME LATTER DAY BEN FRANKLIN, RUST HOPES TO STUDY ELECTRICAL CHARGES IN WINTER STORMS.
Lets go. Little more, little more. Whoa, Stop. Great, were ready for anything!
THE PROJECT IS CALLED "IPEX"THE INTERMOUNTAIN PRECIPITATION EXPERIMENT, AND WOULD RUN FOR MOST OF FEBRUARY
WHAT WERE THE WEAPONS "IPEX" WOULD TAKE INTO THE FRAY???
SOME SENIOR CITIZENS GO TO FLORIDA FOR THE WINTER, BUT ONE OF NOAAS TRUSTY P-3S, NICKNAMED "MISS PIGGY," CAME NORTH AND WEST FROM TAMPA TO REPORT FOR DUTY.
ITS CREW IS USED TO FLYING THROUGH HURRICANES.
NOW IT WOULD BE SNOW AND ICE THAT WOULD BE THE ENEMY.
FROM OKLAHOMA A CONVOY OF VANS AND TRUCKS BROUGHT TWO "DOPPLER ON WHEELS" RADAR UNITS FROM THE UNIVERSITY
FROM THE "SEVERE STORMS" LAB CAME SPECIAL VEHICLES DESIGNED TO LAUNCH BALLOONS AND TRACK THEM AS THEY ASCENDED...
UP AT A SKI RESORT IPEX STATIONED A RADAR THAT POINTED STRAIGHT UP THROUGH THE CLOUDS
ALL THESE WOULD BE CONTROLLED FROM THE IPEX "FORECAST OPERATIONS CENTER", AT THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE, SALT LAKE CITY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.
SALT LAKE CITY, DYNAMIC METROPOLIS IN ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING REGIONS IN THE NATION.
DOWN BELOW, THE GREAT SALT LAKE
UP ABOVE, THE MAJESTIC WASATCH MOUNTAINS.
HERE, IN WINTER, DEEP FRESH SNOW ATTRACTS SKIERS AND SNOWBOARDERS FROM ACROSS AMERICA.
SNOW MEANS SPORT FOR THE LOCAL RESIDENTS AND MILLIONS FOR THE LOCAL ECONOMY.
OUT IN THE BACK-COUNTRY, AVALANCHES THREATEN TREKKERS, SKI-LODGES AND THEIR WORKERS
AND IN 2002, THE WINTER OLYMPICS WILL BRING MILLIONS OF VISITORS FROM AROUND THE WORLD.
BUT, AMAZINGLY, NOT MUCH IS KNOWN ABOUT WHAT TRIGGERS SNOWFALL IN THESE MOUNTAINS.
Meteorology Dept., University of Utah
There are very large differences in snow fall over short distances. Its not uncommon, say, in the state of Utah for several feet of snow to fall in one big storm, say, at Alto which is at 8500 feet and is a fairly famous ski area, and have very little fall, maybe less than 6" or none at all in the Salt Lake Valley, where Salt Lake City is.
THE TERRAIN OUT HERE IN THE WEST, WITH ENDLESS RIDGES AND PEAKS, IS TOO COMPLEX FOR SIMPLE MODELS.
THEN THERES INFLUENCE OF THE GREAT SALT LAKE ITSELF.
TO DATE, THERES BEEN TOO LITTLE INFORMATION, TOO LATE, ABOUT APPROACHING SNOWSTORMS, AND NO LONG TERM STUDIES.
THIS IS HOW THE BEST OF TODAYS WEATHER STATIONS WORK
Research Meteorologist, NSSL/OAR/NOAA
Im Steve Vasiloff and Im a research meteorologist with the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma. Were up at the Middle Bowl Precipitation Gauge site. Its one of several around the Wasatch Mountains.
This is our precipitation gauge. As the snow falls into the top it falls down and mixes with anti-freeze. As the weight of the liquid increases a pressure sensor at the bottom turns that amount of weight into a liquid depth increase.
One inch of water in certain conditions can mean up to 20"of snow, and in other conditions one inch of water may only be 6"of snow.
This is our electronic depth sensor. It bounces a sound wave off this board. And the distance the sound wave travels is proportional to the depth of the snow on that board.
NO MATTER HOW HIGH TECH, THESE STATIONS ONLY LET YOU FIND OUT WHATS ALREADY HAPPENED, ONCE THE SNOW IS ON THE GROUND.
NOAA WANTS TO BE ABLE TO PREDICT SNOWFALL OVER THE MOUNTAINS >BEFORE< IT HAPPENS.
BUT NATURE WAS NOT COOPERATING.
DOWN BY THE SALT LAKE, IT LOOKED MORE LIKE SUMMER.
AT IPEX HQ, THE TROOPS GATHERED FOR THE FIRST OF WHAT WOULD BE DAILY WEATHER BRIEFINGS.
Tom Blazek speaks
Good afternoon, Im Tom Blazek, Ill be doing the weather briefing portion today
THE FIRST FEW DAYS ALL THEY HEARD WAS THAT THERE WAS LITTLE PRECIPITATION IN THE FORECAST.
ONE OF THE CAPTAINS IN THIS WAR ON WEATHER IGNORANCE WAS DAVE SCHULTZ.
HED WORKED FOR MONTHS TO SECURE FUNDS FOR THE EXPERIMENT.
WITH NO SNOW, HED HAVE TO WAIT SOME MORE
Bottom line, in terms of a widespread event, not looking good. Lot of dry air
OUT IN THE FIELD, THE INSTRUMENTS ALSO WAITED FOR THINGS TO HEAT UP OR, IN THIS CASE, COOL DOWN.
Steenburgh: (in meeting)
We could deploy a single lab
DAVE SCHULTZ AND CO-CAPTAIN JIM STEENBURGH CONVENE A COUNCIL OF WAR. THEY DECIDE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE QUIET BEFORE THE STORM
THE PLAN IS TO FLY "MISS PIGGY" OUT OVER THE TETONS, WHERE HEAVY SNOW SEEMS LIKELY.
SO IT WAS TIME TO SCRAMBLE THE FOOT SOLDIERS, AND GET THEM ON THEIR WAY
Where you guys will be, right now, temperatures are in the upper 20s, probably be low 30s today, so you might see some little snow showers, were not expecting any major accumulations.
Dave Rust, off camera;
You ready to saddle up?
THEY HAD TO LEAVE PRE-DAWN TO BE AT THEIR STATIONS BEFORE THE P-3 GOT INTO THE AIR.
NOW FLIGHT CREWS COORDINATED FINAL PLANS WITH THE SCIENTISTS.
FUEL AND LOGISTICAL SUPPORT ARE PRETTY EXPENSIVE, SO THEY HAD TO GET THEIR MATH RIGHT.
THE P-3 MIGHT BE CALLED "MISS PIGGY" BUT IT WAS TIME TO GET SERIOUS.
Just so you get a feel for it, go ahead and open it up
THE STUDENT CONSCRIPTS GOT BASIC TRAINING IN SAFETY FROM THE EXPERIENCED VETERANS OF THE NOAA CORPS.
P-3 pilot, NOAA Corps
Dave Tenneson speaks:
OK, if we have to put this plane in the water, my crew will be opening the life rafts. Read your ditching placards. Read the little placard next to your seat. Understand which raft you have to go out in if we have to go down in the Great Salt Lake.
THE FLIGHT OUT TO THE TETONS OFFERS TIME TO CALIBRATE THE RADARS
Dave Schultz to one
of the other scientists:
OK, were staying at 11,000
DAVE SCHULTZ GETS ON THE RED PHONE NOT TO THE PENTAGON, BUT BACK TO IPEX HQ IN SALT LAKE.
BACK ON THE GROUND, DAVE RUSTS SQUAD LEARNS HOW TO LAUNCH A SERIES OF SMALL BALLOONS, ONE EVERY 3 HOURS.
THESE BALLOONS ARE STILL THE BEST AND LEAST EXPENSIVE WAY TO TAKE VERTICAL WEATHER SOUNDINGS, FROM THE GROUND UP TO ABOUT 50,000 FEET.
BELOW EACH BALLOON HANGS A SMALL RADIOSONDE.
THEY MEASURE TEMPERATURE, PRESSURE, DEW POINT, RELATIVE HUMIDITY, AND WIND SPEED AND DIRECTION THEN RADIO THE DATA BACK DOWN TO GROUND.
MISSION CONTROL WAS A CONVERTED VAN, AND DAVES TRUSTY LAPTOP.
WITH THE STUDENTS LEARNING TEAMWORK ALONG WITH METEOROLOGY THEY EVENTUALLY MANAGE TO GET OFF A NUMBER OF PERFECT LAUNCHES
Straight up there!
SOON THE DATA IS FLOWING BACK DOWN, AND ON TO IPEX HQ
TO GET COMPARABLE DATA OUT OVER THE TETONS, WHERE IPEX HAD NO INSTRUMENTS, IT WAS TIME TO MAKE THE P-3 FLY LIKE A SOUNDING BALLOON, SWOOPING LOW OVER JACKSON HOLE
Research Meteorologist, NSSL/OAR/NOAA
Dave Schultz sync:
Were going to descend almost to the ground. This is called a "Missed Approach." And then take off again. That way well get a profile of the atmosphere, both going down with the plane and going up again.
THEY DESCEND TO 300 FEET THEN CLIMB OUT STEEPLY.
incomprehensible burble from air traffic control!
SAFELY BACK AT ALTITUDE, A CHANCE TO RELAX.
P-3 pilot, NOAA Corps
Peanut butter sandwiches go back to World War 2 (Is that right?) Oh yes, this is very famous food. All flight crews have been eating peanut butter and jelly since peanut butter and jellies were invented. Always extra chunky.
Best part, of course, is the flying and Ive got the best seat in the house, right up front. The worst part is being out over the middle of the ocean or some place very dark, and getting hammered by some storm and you really dont know why. Sometimes these storms when they hit the mountains become just as violent as a hurricane thats approaching landfall.
basically when it gets rough, keep the shiny side up and the dirty side down.
BUT THIS FLIGHT HAD DONE MUCH MORE THAN KEEP OUT OF TROUBLE.
DAVE SCHULTZ THINKS HES ALREADY SEEN SOMETHING NEW ABOUT THE ATMOSPHERE
(Dave Schultz explains
and draws a diagram)
In this environment the atmosphere is very stable, meaning that its very not conducive to up and down displacements. And in this scenario what we would expect isif this is an East-West section across the Tetonsand the wind is blowing here, this air is very stable, it does not want to move up over the mountains, and so we would expect clouds and precipitation to be forming on the west side of the mountains and the heaviest snow would fall here.
In this case, thats not what we see. We see the stronger radar echoes on the East side of the Tetons, here. This is totally unexpected, and hopefully when we get back and have some time to analyze this case we may discover something new about the way the atmosphere works.
BACK HOME, THE SHAKEDOWN CRUISE HAD GONE PRETTY WELL NOW ALL THEY NEEDED WAS SOME SNOW AND RAIN!
A FEW DAYS LATER, IT LOOKED AS IF THEY WERE IN LUCK.
THEY SCRAMBLED THE TROOPS.
OUT ON THE PLAINS THE "DOW" REPORTED FOR DUTY.
DAY TURNED INTO NIGHT.
THE BIG EYE SCANNED THE SKY AND THEN, AGAINST THE MOUNTAINS, BEGAN TO SEE ECHOES OF PRECIPITATION.
RESEARCHER JEFF TRAPP FINALLY HAD SOME DATA TO GET HIS "TEETH" INTO.
Research Meteorologist, NSSL/OAR/NOAA
Weve been out for about nine and a half hours, and right now it looks like we will probably be out here overnight. But Ive got a full stock of cookies and apples and just for good measure and a good stock of cans of Coke and we have students running back and forth. So its going to be a long night, but its going to be a lot of fun.
IT LOOKED LIKE LESS FUN FOR DAVE RUSTS BALLOON BRIGADE.
NOW THEY WERE OUT IN THE ELEMENTS THEYD COME TO STUDY.
SLEET AND RAINAT LAST!
TIME FOR THEM TO GO OVER THE TOP AND INTO ACTION
Dont get behind me
OK, Les, let it go!
YEESS, it worked!
IPEX ENDED IN LATE FEBRUARY, WITH SEVERAL MAJOR STORMS DUMPING MORE THAN 3 FEET OF SNOW ON THE MOUNTAINS.
ONE MONTH OF DATA BUT THE RESEARCHERS SAID IT WOULD TAKE THEM YEARS TO ANALYZE THE RESULTS.
FOR BOTH THE "VETS" AND THE NEW RECRUITS IN THIS WINTER WEATHER ARMY, THE IPEX FIELD CAMPAIGN COULD BE COUNTED A VICTORY.
SOME OF THE STUDENTS WOULD BE HOOKED ON STUDYING WEATHER FOR LIFE.
OLD-TIMERS HAD ANOTHER CHANCE TO DO SOMETHING THAT WAS BOTH WORK AND FUN
Meteorology Dept., University of Utah
Basically I live for skiing and meteorology, so for me this is a blast. After our first, or second Intensive Observing Period I got home at 3:30 in the morning and I couldnt get to sleep I was so excited about the data we collected. So this is not a job Meteorology is a job for people who really love the weather. If you like it, its very exciting to be involved in it. Constantly having to forecast and having to put yourself out on the line is a fun and challenging field to be in.
AT THIS VERY MOMENT, AROUND THE PLANET, THERE ARE MORE THAN 2,000 THUNDERSTORMS
A BOLT OF LIGHTNING IS BRIGHTER THAN 10 MILLION 100 WATT BULBS.
AND IS 5 TIMES HOTTER THN THE SURFACE OF THE SUN
THUNDER CLOUDS CAN REACH AS HIGH AS 60,000, TWICE THE HEIGHT OF MOUNT EVEREST.
SOUTH FLORIDA AVERAGES MORE THAN 90 THUNDERSTORMS A YEAR, MORE THAN ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE UNITED STATES.
AND LIGHTNING CAN STRIKE AS MUCH AS 10 MILES AWAY FROM A THUNDERSTORMSO TAKE COVER WHEN ONE APPROACHES
Hurricane researcher, AOML/OAR/NOAA
Mark Croxford sync:
We just happen to be in a great position right now because we actually have a rather large squall line coming into Miami and these things this is invigorating because were standing here in this extremely humid air its like 90 degrees out here and its all flowing right into that beast right there.
The great thing about these storms is that they bring air from the mid levels down to the surface and youll feel the temperature drop, like sometimes 20 degrees. And youll feel this advancing flow and youll know thats air thats been up 5, 6 kilometers.
This is a living system were looking at right now. Im stoked, man I cant wait.
Theres a sea breeze in action right now. Theres wind thats blowing off the ocean towards us and theres also winds blowing on the other side of the system and whats happening is theyre converging...and because that convergence airs got to go somewhere so it goes up, so you get these really big, tall clouds and the taller a cloud gets the more vigorous the convection, the more intense the system is going to be.
Dry air from up in the cloud is being kind of recycled, in a sense, down to the surface. And as that outflow, that air coming out of the storm moves forward, its denser than the air ahead of it, so it pushes air up ahead of it. So youve got this big mass and it pushes air up and thats what these clouds are going to be. These clouds right here are going to be big, tall clouds.
If you guys see a cloud and theres kind of a cauliflower surface to it, that means that the cloud is building very quickly and that theres a very strong rising motion the storm is very active.
Okay see up here. See how its a little more cauliflower in nature. Thats starting to pop a little bit. And also if youre looking at a cloud and you see it really build fast and you want to sound hip, you dont say look at that cloud building really fast, you say "look at that cloud poppin "
Feel the wind? Feel the breeze? Feel how the temperature is starting to drop? Thats the storm. Its propagating this way. You cant do anything about that refreshing feeling thats coming on right now.
You see the streaks. You know thats rain out at the head of the storm. What you have is little water molecules that are bouncing together and bouncing together and bouncing together and getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And so you have these updrafts that can hold the water up. Well, eventually the water gets too big for these updrafts to hold it up. So then you get rain falling out.
Another thing is with all this vertical motion, when you get a storm like this, say like youve been through the storm, take a look at the sky sometimes what you see up higher than where the clouds were youll see this little thin layer of cloud and what that is is because the storm had so much vertical motion it was depositing moisture at high levels. You might hear someone say altostratus, you might hear someone say cirrus. Cirrus is just leftover moisture from an old cloud.
We need more meteorologists theres a lot of data out there. One of my supervisors always says we have so much data we need more students. Oh, here comes more outflow. Oh there we go, thats the real stuff right there. All right, now the winds really starting to pick up. You can feel it, you can also feel the temperature dropping. And you can see every once in a while. out there you get a good lightning strike and thats one thing you really want to be careful about, so right about now Im going be safe. Im probably going to go take some shelter. All right, so Im going to get out of here, so Ill see you guys later.
IN "LIVE FROM THE STORM", PROGRAM 2, "RESEARCH TO THE RESCUE" WELL BE GOING BEHIND THE SCENES AT NOAAS NATIONAL SEVERE STORMS LABORATORY IN NORMAN, OKLAHOMA.
THIS IS HOME TO THE TEAMS OF SCIENTISTS WHO FOR YEARS HAVE BEEN CHASING TORNADOES ACROSS THE GREAT PLAINS, USING DOPPLER RADAR TO TRY TO FIGURE OUT JUST WHY SOME SUPERCELL THUNDERSTORMS SPAWN TWISTERS, AND OTHERS JUST FADE AWAY.
AND WELL SEE, IN REAL TIME, WHAT STORMS ARE MOVING ACROSS THE NATION, LOOKING OVER THE SHOULDERS OF FORECASTERS AT THE WEATHER SERVICES "STORM PREDICTION CENTER."
ONCE AGAIN, YOULL BE ABLE TO INTERACT WITH MANY OF AMERICAS LEADING RESEARCHERS VIA THE "LIVE FROM THE STORM" WEBSITE.
REMEMBER, AS BEN FRANKLIN SAID, YOU CAN BE "WEATHER WISE OR OTHERWISE!"
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