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November-December 2012

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Vortex 2: A Closer Look

From April into June of both 2009 and 2010, approximately 100 researchers, technicians, and students in the second Verification of the Origin of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX 2) roamed the Great Plains in a fleet of 40 or so vehicles measuring what happens inside supercell thunderstorms'the monster storms that sometimes spin out the strongest tornadoes.

While most scientists usually work in obscurity to those outside their fields, television crews from the Weather Channel, Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers, and IMAX film maker Sean Casey and his tank-like Tornado Intercept Vehicle followed the VORTEX 2 caravan across the Plains, as the scientists chased and caught supercells.

JACK WILLIAMS was the founding weather page editor of USA TODAY when the paper began publication in September 1982. He is the author of seven books and is now a freelance writer specializing in weather.

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