Stormchasing in Oklahoma

Well not exactly, there’s no storms here today, but there are a lot of vehicles like this one:

I’m attending this conference, not as a storm chaser, but as a supplier of technology to aid in storm monitoring.

WUWT readers may recall this gadget I showcased some time ago:

Add your own ‘Radar Channel’ to your TV

Here’s the conference details:

2011 National Severe Weather Workshop

Predictions of Peril: Managing Hazardous Weather Information

One of the sessions talked about the new dual polarity doppler radar technology, I can’t wait to see this finally in use. Some info below.

An Introduction to Dual-Polarization Radar for National Weather Service Stakeholders, Paul Schlatter, NOAA/NWS Warning Decision Training Branch, Norman, OK; Dale Morris and Andrew Wood, OU-CIMMS and NOAA/NWS Warning Decision Training Branch, Norman, OK

Dual Polarization Beams

Click to view zoomed image

Click the image above to view a zoomed in image.

Here’s a paper outlining this new radar capability (PDF)

And a powerpoint presentation (PPT)
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Brian H
March 5, 2011 2:44 am

But can that Doppler radar detect changing climate?

March 5, 2011 3:08 am

Greenland is melting what a joke

March 5, 2011 4:27 am

What is the Union flag doing on the rear wing of the vehicle ?
REPLY: No idea. One vehicle I saw had an Earth Day flag… – Anthony

Luther Wu
March 5, 2011 4:50 am

Welcome to Oklahoma, Anthony.
Norman’s a fine town with not only the world’s most advanced weather radar installations (there and in nearby Oklahoma City,) but also lots of fine food and entertainment.
We pay very close attention to our weather out here, with good reason.
Hopefully, the only weather- related thrills you will encounter this trip will be during the Thunder vs Suns game, 3/6 6pm.
REPLY: Thanks. I watched part of the Thunder game last night, but the TV at the bar had no sound. I wondered if they do any thunder sound effects during the game?

Al Cooper
March 5, 2011 5:00 am

Welcome to Oklahama.
I hope you do well and have a productive trip.
Thank you for the info on this new radar.
Enjoy yourself as you travel!

March 5, 2011 5:09 am

Roger T says
What is the Union flag doing on the rear wing of the vehicle ?
we have a few stormchasers in the UK, some of whom spend a lot of time in the USA. a fair amount of the news footage you see is captured by them. there was a tv program last year ‘A very British Storm-Junkie’ on channel 4

Nigel S
March 5, 2011 5:18 am

RogerT says:
March 5, 2011 at 4:27 am
From the parking I would guess that the driver is from over here (hence the Union ‘jack’).

March 5, 2011 5:36 am

I can see this new technology having a big impact for aviation. I would imagine it will make it even easier to detect micro-bursts and other transient and abrupt shifts. Have you seen anything about aviation applications?
Thanks for the details.

March 5, 2011 5:44 am

Re the union flag on the van: the adjacent URL is and there’s a description of the vehicle there.

Roy Jones
March 5, 2011 6:04 am

The vehicle is wearing the Union Jack because it belongs to UKStormchasers, set up by a couple of chaps who met at Reading University.

March 5, 2011 6:18 am

I was out in Norman in the early 80’s for a NexRad conference. Hard to believe that it’s been around for over twenty years and pushing 30 from the time it was being developed. The original computers are dinosaurs now.

Henry chance
March 5, 2011 6:26 am

That storm chaser vehicle looks great. It may even work well on the sand dunes at Waynoka between storms in Oklahoma.

Paul Coppin
March 5, 2011 6:27 am

LOL! Stormchasers! Amateurism defined… Carloads of 20 somethings cluttering up the highways in severe weather looking for a cheap thrill without a clue what they’re about…. Tons of “gear” they barely know how to use stuffed in a car doing what they haven’t told their insurance company about yet… 🙂 Not one of then knows how to use a camera or what to actually take a picture of once they get to it…. Enviropaparazzi… 🙂 LOL! Ok, dog poked, standing by….

Justa Joe
March 5, 2011 6:29 am

I hope Reed Timmer is not a warmist.

March 5, 2011 6:35 am

I wish I had known you were coming to this, I would have attended. I have been to several in Norman (About 20 minutes away from me). I try to go every year but had to be in DC all last week and most of this week.
Hope you are having a good trip, and safe travels!

March 5, 2011 6:46 am

I can understand the need for the extra thick snorkel on a British Stormchaser, but I haven’t seen that little sensor with the four cubes on the rooftop before. What does it do?

March 5, 2011 7:04 am

If you happen to see fellow meteorologist / storm chaser Jason Laney there, tell him his favorite bass player (from Chris Plays Guitar) said “Hi”! When he was in Fresno, he used to come to our shows all the time! We talked tornadoes and what.

John F. Hultquist
March 5, 2011 7:23 am

A lot of folks do this on their own – just for the thrill. See this site (poster is a friend) for an example.
Under the blog heading, the last 3 entries are:
~ Weekend Weather
~ Upcoming Iditarod
~ Name This Image (it’s a nice photo)

March 5, 2011 7:40 am

If the radar will make rain fall prediction more accurate I’m all for it. It’s disconcerting to have a radar return show light to moderate rain over my neighborhood only to go outside and have nothing or light sprinkles (yes I know that the standby explanation is virga but this in heavy wet overcast seems incongruous). Any chance this could be from mis-calibrated radar either on distance or the colors used?
I see that graupel is in the list even though rarely mentioned in forecasts or precipitation descriptions but is not uncommon in this area and sleet (small hail or frozen rain) is not mentioned at all. To me the term sleet should be used more often as it does not imply potential impact damage. When I hear the word hail, I have to stop and listen to see if they will say what size it may be for a damage estimate.
Been in the edge of one small tornado and managed to outrun it with only small sticks and a lot of leaves/grass impinging the vehicle with no damage. That one tore roofing off several houses in our area and destroyed several houses downstream.
On another occasion we had one pass behind us on I-40 east of Oklahoma City that tore up a lot of trees. Missed it by about 10 seconds. An exciting place to live.

Billy Liar
March 5, 2011 7:51 am

Pascvaks says:
March 5, 2011 at 6:46 am
I can understand the need for the extra thick snorkel on a British Stormchaser, but I haven’t seen that little sensor with the four cubes on the rooftop before. What does it do?
It lights up the parking lot at night! Better for astronomy than the extra thick snorkel.

Al Cooper
March 5, 2011 7:52 am

Pascvaks. That pole with cubes is a light pole in the parking lot behind this vehickle.The cubes are downward shinning lights.

Al Cooper
March 5, 2011 7:55 am

Should be vehicle . (Kan’t spell this morning)

March 5, 2011 8:03 am

Welcome to Oklahoma, Anthony. Best wishes for sales and information sharing. Look for our local meteorologists. We have some of the best!

March 5, 2011 8:10 am

Welcome to Oklahoma, Anthony.
Re the Storm Trackers. I think every TV station in West Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas has a few of them, as well as several independent companies catering to tourists. Don’t think many ever get hurt, but you see their vehickles in the spring and summer all beat to pieces by hail.
Hope you’re able to get some good information. And a few sales.

March 5, 2011 8:54 am

U.K. stormchasers in the U.S.???
I can see it now….James, Richard, and Jeremy are each given $1500 to build a stormchaser car from bits of old american trucks, then see who can get closest to a tornado without getting “Oz’d”.
Then the Stig will do a lap for time in the winning vehicle, if there’s anything left of it.
Seriously though, wouldn’t a Top Gear episode on GlobalWarming-MET style be fun?? ….That’s an episode where all the predictions are wrong.

Jim G
March 5, 2011 9:01 am

Wonder if there is any way to use the dual polarization radar to correlate ground based data with the thundertorm generated gamma ray flashes and antimatter generation being observed from orbit? The fact that these storms generate such high energies is one of the most interesting new bits of data I have read about in a long time. And, as unlikely as it may seem, all of the articles I have read admit that all of our supposedly astute researchers readily admit that they have no explanation for the phenomina. Have not even seen any theories or computer models on it ……yet.
Jim G

Luther Wu
March 5, 2011 9:06 am

Anthony- re: Thunder FX… the live games are filled with all kinds of fun things going on, including characters pounding on huge drums for the sound of THUNDER!
RogerT says:
March 5, 2011 at 4:27 am
From the parking I would guess that the driver is from over here (hence the Union ‘jack’).
Good catch- We have a substantial population of British ex- pats around the greater OKC Metro area… I run into them all the time and have found it quite interesting how a Nottingham accent is different than a Manchu, etc. You raise some real honest- to- goodness rowdies over there and they’re great fun to hang with.
ruck ruck- though the younger ones are more into soccer.

Luther Wu
March 5, 2011 9:13 am

BFL says:
March 5, 2011 at 7:40 am
If the radar will make rain fall prediction more accurate I’m all for it…
Check out KFOR’s site
During the last storm, I kept a close eye on KFOR radar and it was amazingly accurate- it showed light/heavy/no rain at this locale with accuracy for all except just a few minutes of the storm. I was really surprised how good it was.

Pete H
March 5, 2011 9:17 am

RogerT says:
March 5, 2011 at 4:27 am
“What is the Union flag doing on the rear wing of the vehicle ?”
“REPLY: No idea. One vehicle I saw had an Earth Day flag… – Anthony”
Sponsored by the Met Office? Sarc <

March 5, 2011 9:40 am

Oklahoma has 77 county sheriffs and a few of the urban counties have sub-stations. The TV stations often have storms in different counties within their viewing area they need to switch to. Your StormPredator Radar Appliance would seem a good fit for the sheriff’s dispatch offices.
There are also over a dozen Highway Patrol districts.

March 5, 2011 10:02 am

How far are you from the NexRad for your area? Too close and there’s ground clutter, too far away and you’ve got large radar cell size and slant range issues (farther out you go the higher the beam is both because of look angle and earth curvature) .

March 5, 2011 10:15 am

An acquaintance of mine in BC, Canada has developed a tool he is calling the audiolumitron. I’ve seen and used it and it is really quite amazing. It is still first-gen but very capable. And utterly simple to replicate.
With it you can hear rain or snow long before it reaches the ground. A pair of fully digitized gen-2 versions with telescopic optics and light filters including polarization should provide stereo imagery as well as stereo audio. Once can only imagine what one of these on an indexed radar-like scanning antenna would provide.

Doug Proctor
March 5, 2011 10:21 am

Anthony – your app/stuff is another example of how knowledge and technology formerly available only to large corporations or government agencies is now in available to the ordinary Joe. Unlike CDs or IPODs, your stuff/this kind of stuff, leads to more knowledge and confidence in the OJs. So that when they/we hear from the “experts” we/they are in a better position to audit their statements.
The joy of the future is in the power the interested person gains to question what is said to be in his interest when it is not. Global warming would have slid through were it not for personal computers, the internet and a technologically savvy public. The FOIAs were – as Tony Blair exclaimed – unwise legislation not for “good” governance, but but for the ability of governors to control what and when we know, and to spin what was unpalatable into the palatable.
The more we can ascertain for ourselves – even looking to the threat of storms coming across the mid-west – the more we take personal responsibility for our lives. Bad service we can then see for ourselves. Who knows what Hansen would have done had he realized that you and others would have the energy, ability and technology to legitimately challenge his (self-serving) statements?
The IPCC burst upon us before we realized that the science was so heavily politicized. If the oversight of WUWT et al had been on the first release, would things like Gore gotten so out of control? A difficult question, but I suspect that Gore would have been successfully hammered prior to getting a Nobel prize, at least. And that would have been better.
Keep up the good work. You are part of the vanguard we always needed, always suspected we needed, but couldn’t justify before. The “the government knows better than you” always had a ring of truth to it. Even though it was not true.

CRS, Dr.P.H.
March 5, 2011 10:31 am

Be sure to get a chicken-fried steak & fried okra lunch on me, Anthony! Have a great time & sell, sell, sell! Best, Charles the DrPH

John Innes
March 5, 2011 10:42 am

The paper on dual polarization radar provides a huge amount of information, and the Power Point doesn’t play for me. Perhaps it will help if I provide a brief background history.
Raindrops of a particular size are good reflectors of radar energy of a particular band of frequencies, and this first became important before there was a requirement for weather radar because the reflection from rain masked the returns from the targets the radar was intended to look at. There was a great need to look through the rain, and there was a way to do it. It happens that a raindrop preserves the plane of polarization of the incident radar signal into the reflected one, but the intended targets returned randomly polarized reflections. So the returns from rain could be rejected by interposing a layer in front of the antenna that rotated the plane of polarization by 45 degrees. The return signals were also rotated by 45 degrees by this layer before reaching the antenna, so the rain signals, rotated 90 degrees in total, were cross polarized and did not reach the radar receiver. Of the randomly polarized target returns, only the small proportion that were of nearly the original polarization were lost, the rest being displayed without rain clutter.
So signals of one polarization can show rain, and of the other can show other reflectors. Even the size and shape of the raindrop affects its reflecting nature somewhat. Dual polarization exploits this.
That is the early history leading to the technique, and I hope gives some idea of the properties the designers have used in much more advanced ways for meteorological work. The above information may be buried among the paper or the PPT, or perhaps implied. I just wanted to give a thumbnail clue as a starting point.

Stephen Richards
March 5, 2011 11:03 am

Sonicfrog says:
March 5, 2011 at 7:04 am
If you happen to see fellow meteorologist / storm chaser Jason Laney there
My wife’s name is LANEY and we think it originates from here in sw france. There are a number of hameaux here called Leynie (same pronunciation) and her oncle lived in the States until recently. He died.

Doug Allen
March 5, 2011 11:18 am

Lots of storm chasers know how to use electronics. It’s a sub-hobby for many of my fellow amateur radio operators (hams). A lot of younger hams are what we call “appliance operators” and may not know that much about electronics, but maybe they’re very computer literate. In any case, good luck with the sales of monitoring technology, Anthony.

March 5, 2011 11:52 am

Roy Jones says:
March 5, 2011 at 6:04 am
it’s only called the Union Jack when the flag is raised on a UK Navy ship. Any other time it’s just called the Union Flag.

March 5, 2011 12:10 pm

Stormchasers get to drive the coolest stuff.

March 5, 2011 12:10 pm

Despite all the jargon about being able to see past the rain to the targets on the other side… I’m thinking that the idea is to peer through the rain wrap to see the tornado lurking on the other side.

Mike McMillan
March 5, 2011 1:35 pm

I’m attending this conference, not as a storm chaser, but as a supplier of technology
Evil capitalist.
I was in Norman for grad school 30+ years ago. The professors always said they were trying to build a grad school their football team could be proud of.

March 5, 2011 1:41 pm

Im in NW Arkansas right next door. Id like to thank all those jacked-up vehicles like the one you are showing for not putting mud flaps on their vehicle. Cause these dumb things, combined with the fact the lovely, lovely south likes to not use salt…but PEA GRAVEL on the interstates when it snows… Is the reason why I have to replace my windshield on average once every 2 years. Just got my 3rd crack in my latest windshield the other day following behind one of these retard trucks.

March 5, 2011 2:11 pm

Thanks for the replies.
As for the parking skills, having seen West Texans drive in snow, I know whose skills I prefer thanks 😉

March 5, 2011 10:08 pm

From the looks of it, that UK storm chasing vehicle is already in trouble. Pretty sure those wheels are supposed to be touching the ground. 😉

March 5, 2011 10:54 pm

@ BerryW: I used to live within a mile of the weather radar dome east of Oklahoma City and could tell the location center by the blank center point and scan lines. I have not done extensive channel comparison but about half the time on any particular channel using that particular dome it would be “off” as would the other radars. I now live on a cleared hill and don’t notice any difference. I suspect that psychology is sometimes substituted for accuracy (assuming the equipment and setup personnel are “good”) in that if they show rain and it’s doing nothing, that’s okay; but if they show nothing and there is a heavy downpour, now that gets noticed.

March 5, 2011 11:17 pm

While the leaves are still off the trees you can see all the ice damage in Oklahoma across to West Virginia.

Jason Joice M.D.
March 6, 2011 2:44 am

If you are going to be in OK for a while, let me know. I can hook you up with anything you need. Even a bar that has TV’s with sound.

G. Karst
March 6, 2011 7:49 am

The new radar looks great, but I have one nagging question.
What actual science is being worked, with storm chasers. It seems to me it is a glorified Easter egg hunt. There seems to be a lot of people doing it, for thrills, and I can’t seem to place my finger on any real science results. Fun and excitement, seems to be the motivation clothed in some sort of science camouflage.
If I am mistaken (don’t want to step on anyone’s toes), I would appreciate correction, as to it’s scientific results and value, so far. GK

Pamela Gray
March 6, 2011 7:50 am

We don’t have salt here and it is very expensive anyway. But we have lots of rocks. So instead of paying for imported salt, we grind up rocks. Rock crushers are a dime a dozen around here and the rock is just a few short feet away from the crusher.
I’ve learned to take the side roads and alternate pass over the Blues. Also the slant of your windshield is a very important variable in whether or not the rock glances off or creates a star crack. Since switching to a rig with a much more slanted windshield, I have not had nearly the same severity of chips.
But more importantly, just try to get your produce and products in or out of remote locations, or to/from the main RR line without trucks. Bottom line, you don’t want to experience life without trucks. Just after the cheap Ford car came out, a cheap Ford truck was made. Wallowa County immediately began using these trucks to get their produce to the train stations (both became available here at about the same time by 1910). Driving pigs even 20 miles to a train station means that by the time they are weighed, you have lost money.
So, if you get a crack in your windshield from a truck, consider it a blessing.

CRS, Dr.P.H.
March 6, 2011 3:17 pm

Pamela Gray says:
March 6, 2011 at 7:50 am
We don’t have salt here and it is very expensive anyway. But we have lots of rocks. So instead of paying for imported salt, we grind up rocks. Rock crushers are a dime a dozen around here and the rock is just a few short feet away from the crusher.
REPLY: Where do you live, Ganymede??

Jim Cook
March 6, 2011 10:07 pm

@ BarryW, those computers are long gone. The RCP and RVP are just 4U boxes now, the RPG’s being 1U. It’s a lovely system to work on.
As to the Dual Pol mod, still going to be a while before it is deployed nationally. Last I knew my Nexrad was on the list for 2 years from now barring any delays. Not that that is all that critical, when was the last tornado in Alaska?

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