This semester I was the Teaching Assistant
for Dr. Josh Wurman's radar class. As such, I was responsible
for training all students in the field operations of the Doppler
on Wheels mobile doppler weather radar as well as driving the
truck and overseeing the students in data collection. On this
day, a number of Dutch students wished to take the truck down
to Texas, south of Wichita Falls.
I don't recall the meteorological conditions
on that day (I'm writing this about one year later). We observed
several severe thunderstorms near Haskell, TX. One storm in
particular exhibited a very nice inflow beaver tail and a slight
hook on its southern edge. While this was taking place, I was
attempting to fix the side door of the radar truck with a small,
inadequate screwdriver. The lock had broken while the door was
being closed and we had no way to get it open. I eventually
gave up and simply removed the entire locking mechanism and
used "bungee" cords to keep the door shut. As you
can imagine, I was a bit preoccupied and, once the storm began
to cycle and loose some of its distinct characteristics, I decided
to head south. We were driving east, about 30 miles south of
Throckmorton, TX, when a tornado formed near the town. There
we were, in a mobile radar truck, had been scanning that very
storm not 30 minutes earlier and totally missed it. Hey, that's
life...I blame the broken door lock!
Soon after the Throckmorton tornado,
the isolated cells quickly formed into a well-defined squall
line. The Dutch students ditched the DOW, leaving just myself
in the truck, somewhere between Haskell and Forth Worth. As
I neared FWS, I met up with students Danny Cheresnik and Mike
Buban, who wished to collect radar data of the squall line.
We just barely had enough time to find a deployment site (near
a small lake on the north side of town) to collect data as the
squall line hit.
On the drive back to Norman, the
truck experienced electrical failure. The battery was continuously
dying, first causing the instrument cluster, then the radio,
and finally the headlights to fail. We periodically used the
trucks 120 VAC generator to power a 12 VDC battery charger.
It took almost 5 hours to drive what is typically a 3-hour trip
- The Dutch students have a great web
site of their love for Meteorology. Please check
- Chuck Doswell has a complete account
of this day on his chase
- Click here for storm
reports from this day.