University research teams return to Mississippi to study the latest wave of severe storms


BROOKSVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) — The return of severe weather to Mississippi has also prompted the return of research teams from the University of Alabama Huntsville and other colleges to collect storm data.

“All the ingredients kind of aligned to put Mississippi in the middle of the chance of having extreme weather again,” says UAH student Josh Huggins.

They come back exactly one week later come and study the recent tornado of March 23.

“Today represents a kind of unique case for us and the fact that we have the possibility of very high risk winds other than thunderstorms,” ​​Huggins said. “What we’re feeling here right now (10:30 a.m.) with these stronger gusts of wind that are well ahead of the main line.”

The five to six UAH teams have been dispatched to Highway 45 as part of Project Perils, which aims to better understand the progress of tornadoes and other storms so they can be identified earlier and give locations more time. like Mississippi to prepare.

“Understanding these linear storm systems as they progress through the southeast,” Huggins says. “Since it’s such a common type of storm for us here.”

Josh Huggins was part of the group in Brooksville working with their mobile Doppler and LIDAR system.

“We use a laser beam that is projected into the atmosphere,” he says. “We are able to get data sets like relative humidity. We are able to get an idea of ​​how much water vapor we have in the atmosphere.

Another team was based in Amory with what they call their mobile integrated profiling system. It has a radar system that measures wind profiles to help researchers track wind patterns that lead to major storms.

“A lot of hot, humid air is pumped in from the Gulf of Mexico,” says Zeb Leffler, one of the UAH students based there. “And this hot and humid cold air leads to the development of thunderstorms and above all will intensify the initial squall line.”

Matthew Starke constantly monitors the various screens that display the different types of data they collect and tracks the weather balloons they deploy throughout the day.

“The first thing we normally do with wind data is see how much shear (there is),” says Starke. “It’s the first thing we normally do because it’s important. The amount of shear is important for the possibility of tornado formation.

Huggins says they actually had to abandon one of their trucks last week so they could get out of the path of the approaching storm. He says it’s standard procedure when studying these types of storms and that teams are equipped with two trucks so they can evacuate while leaving the radar to collect more data.

“Whatever way we can help increase that headroom before warnings, that’s what we’re trying to do,” he says.

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