VORTEX-SE user interview

pic 2Mississippi State University has used Windsond during the VORTEX-SE campaign during the spring 2016.

We interviewed professor Mike Brown about the experience.

What is your role in the VORTEX-SE project?
MSU’s role in VORTEX-SE was to gather sounding data and quantify possible landscape-induced changes in the severe storm environment by exploiting simultaneous boundary-layer soundings on both sides of pronounced changes in the landscape. The sounding data collected will be used to quantify the strength of the boundary and related diurnal boundary layer response. which will provide a depiction of the mesoscale circulations. Differences in the sounding profiles at a pair of sites (on opposing sides of a boundary) will then be used to quantify the changes in local storm ingredients associated with the circulations. The high spatial and temporal resolution data will be compared to WRF model case study simulations to assess whether a routine operational-like forecast can adequately represent the mesoscale response. The data will then be assimilated into the WRF model to assess whether their inclusion can improve the skill of the model.
What made you choose Windsond for soundings?
We chose Windsond for a number of reasons.  First, the small package makes it easy to deploy.  Second, in near storm environments we would often launch every 15 minutes, the ability for Windsond to track up to 8 sondes was important to us.  Additionally we liked the usb receiver which was small yet delivered a range of nearly 85km of range.  The small balloon also saved in helium costs.
How did the project go for you? Were there particular challenges?
We lost a couple of sondes to heavy rain.  We also had a couple of sondes get “stuck” in stable layers.  In those cases we needed a bigger balloon and more sonde buoyancy.  The output required scripting to get into the format used by the research team.  We have asked Windsond to develop an additional output file to remedy that issue.
What was your experience with Windsond?
Very positive, the developers are quick to help and I have enjoyed working with the sondes and the people behind them.
What’s most attractive about Windsond in your mind?
ease of use.  In fact, for a separate project we trained middle school aged students (12-14 years old) to launch the sondes, collect the data, and send for analysis by the National Weather Service.
What are your plans for future campaigns?
We hope to continue with funding for the second year of VORTEX-SE.  Should our proposal be funded, we will once again be using Windsond.

We thank Mike Brown for the collaboration and the interview! We will add support for the Sharppy data format.

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