UNL leads research on supercell thunderstorms

University joins with Texas Tech, NOAA and others for TORUS project

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – UNL, Texas Tech and other universities are working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to study supercell thunderstorms across the Midwest.

Supercells are storms that can produce tornadoes.

The project is called Targeted Observation by Radars and UAS of Supercells, or TORUS.

TORUS started in 2019 and was supposed to be conducted in 2020 as well, but with the pandemic, it was postponed to 2022.

The team of researchers fly drones into these supercells to get an inside look at the storms.

NOAA Hurricane Hunters are also flying around the storms to gather more data for the team.

All of the research they are conducting will help meteorologists forecast severe weather.

For the researchers, it is a long, but fun, process.

Lead investigator Adam Houston, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor, explained the process of catching these super storms.

“The day before, we’re trying to find a big area where we might operate,” he said. “We’re going to go to that area the day of. We kind of refine that forecast to a smaller area. And then we go there, and then when storms form, we pick a storm, and then that becomes our target storm.”

Then the researchers put the instruments in strategic locations to “get the data in a coordinated way,” Houston said.

He said that while it’s frustrating when storms change track or dissipate, that data is just as important as the information received from storms that go right over the equipment.

To follow the team as it conducts its research, follow its Twitter page.

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