This past weekend I attended the 12th Annual Severe Storm and Doppler Radar Conference in Des Moines, Iowa. Of the 200 meteorologists at the conference the areas represented were broadcasting, the National Weather Service, the Storm Prediction Center, university professors, researchers, graduate and undergraduate college students. The conference really was a great way for exchange of ideas and discussion between the professionals in different sectors of the field. Such discourse is so important for the science of meteorology.
I’d like to share some highlights from the presentations I found most interesting. On the first night of the conference Paul Markowski from Penn State spoke on the VORTEX2 project that is in the works for next year. The actual formation of a tornado in a supercell is still a big unknown in meteorology and the research from the VORTEX2 project will attempt to shed light on this mystery.
Another speaker gave a presentation on what a La Nina year (which we are in now) means for the Central Plains region. The research showed that in La Nina years the temperature gradient is greater between warm and cold regions in the middle of the country, possibly influencing an increased number of tornadoes during the storm season for the Plains.
Also at the conference was a citizen of Greensburg, Kansas who spoke about what it was like to live through the EF5 tornado that devastated her town last May. Sometimes in meteorology the human impact of the weather is not always directly realized by the scientists. Hearing from someone that actually lived through the event and her own story of survival gave all of us a unique perspective of the tornado.
Be aware of the weather this week as a chance for severe storms comes back to the state on Wednesday and Thursday. Stay tuned to KOCO to keep you alert during this severe weather season.