Patience is a Necessary Virtue - IPEX field Journal

Jeff Trapp, Ph. D.- NOAA/NSSL   02/10/00
Research Meteorologist,
NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory and
Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies
Boulder, CO



  It's 3 p.m. We've been operating now for about 2.5 hrs. This is the first IOP (Intensive Observing Period) with both DOWs (Doppler on Wheels), and getting both systems running and coordinated has been challenging. Good time for this two radar-deployment "shakedown," though: looking out the DOW portholes, all I can see is a few shallow cumulus clouds-not exactly what we had been hoping for and what the forecast models had been advertising! The P-3 takeoff, originally scheduled for 3 p.m., has now been delayed until at least 8 p.m. We've been preparing for an all-nighter (brought plenty of Coke, cookies, and a couple apples for good measure)... we'll see what Mother Nature brings to us tonight.

   6:04 p.m. DOW3 has been down, now, for about 2 hrs, due to a problem with the antenna. Luciano is troubleshooting the problem, and I'm anxiously awaiting his phone call, telling me that all is well and DOW3 is up and operating. The weather is starting to get interesting-we're now seeing radar echoes on our screen, indicating some thickening clouds, though still no precipitation is falling at the ground. Patience is a necessary virtue in meteorological field research...not to say that I'm blessed with an abundance of it, though!.

   The P3 takes off in 2 hours. Jim Steenburgh is in the Ops Center and is still very optimistic.

   10:45 p.m. Luciano called a couple of hours ago with the bad news that DOW3 is down for the rest of the IOP. Hopefully, we'll have time to fix the problem before Saturday, our next potential IOP. I'm cautiously optimistic about the situation that's setting up: a large band of precipitation is located about 25 km to my south, and I'm been watching it very slowly move my way. I continue to be on the phone with Dave Rust, who is 15 km to my east at the Ogden Airport. He's very anxious to launch one of his balloons with instrumentation that measures electric field. We've been waiting on this band to move northward, but it seems to be in no hurry to do so. From what I'm told by the folks at the Ops Center, the P-3 is in something of a holding pattern down near Provo. Fatigue is starting to set in, but I think I can manage to run the radar alone for several more hours-seems like an appropriate time to pop open another can of Coke and tune the clock radio I borrowed from the hotel to a country music station.

   2:00 am. IOP #2 has now ended. I've shut down the radar and generator. Finally, some light rain has started to fall at the radar site: I was determined to stay here at my post until I observed at least some kind of precipitation! My student assistant, Mark, just left. He's kept me company for the past couple of hours, after helping Dave launch his balloon.

   Postscript. I drove back the construction-laden I-15 to the NWS office in Salt Lake City in light-moderate rain. Back at the hotel, I noticed a broad shield of precipitation that extended just south of where we had deployed. The Wasatch Mountains received several inches of snow overnight.

   The P-3 had flown a very productive mission, collecting, according to Brad Smull, some of the best microphysical data he'd seen. Jim's raving about the event the next day at weather briefing.

Feeling pretty lousy, I crashed hard at 3:30 am, and slept 4 hours.

Ed note: you can see the IPEX experiment on camera, watch the DOWs and P-3 in action, look at a launch of one of Dave Rust's large balloons, meet some of the people mentioned in this JOURNAL (such as Jim Steenburgh) and much more-during LIVE FROM THE STORM program 1. And you can also watch IPEX, anytime, anywhere, here on the web, in streaming video.


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