Friday, February 11, 2011

February 9-10th Event

Sounding Team:

Our final chance to sample lake-effect snow for the season came down to literally the last few days before the radar was scheduled to leave. However, this event turned out to be one of our best calls of the season with our forecasting and timing. Jake, Lacey, and Brittany were part of the sounding team this night. We started our journey in Oswego,NY before going mobile and deploying to the north. Our first stop was in Mexico, NY where we launched our first weather balloon. We were on the southern side of the band at the time. Then we preceded even farther north to around Pulaski, NY and launched a second balloon in the core of the band. Afterwards we launched balloons numbers three and four before calling it a night or morning seeing that we arrived back on campus at 8:30A.M.  Overall it was a very successful operation by the sounding team this particular night with copious amounts of very useful and interesting data!

Transect Team:

The Transect team driving north on Rt. 481 entering Oswego on Feb 10th at 6:30am

 Downtown Fulton at 6:00am

The probe on a runoff in the center of the snow band core near Texas, NY on Feb 10th at 4:00am.  Here it was snowing at 4 inches per hour.

At 1:30am, the transect team left Oswego, NY and headed east, then north through the band.  We began experiencing snow once we reached Scriba, NY and then it intensified quickly as we reached Route 3 near Texas, NY.  In the center of the band, the snow was falling at a rate of about 4 inches per hour.  We reached the northern side of the snow band around 3:00am and then went south to transect the snowstorm yet again.  The snow was still falling at a rate of 4 inches per hour.  We arrived back in Oswego as the sun came up around 6:45am.  It was snowing heavily on the south side of town, and as we reached Route 104 in Downtown Oswego, the snow had completely stopped and clear sky was visible to the north.  We collected over 5 hours of surface data from a very strong lake-effect storm.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Operations on January 15th, 2011

The Sounding Team:
The sounding team was stationed on the SUNY Oswego campus for the duration of the event.  The objective was to release rawinsondes to the north, in the core and to the south of the lake effect band in order to sample the environment inside and outside of the band.  The first weather balloon was launched shortly before 7 in the evening, when the band was to the north of Oswego.  The second launch occurred around midnight, with the core of the band right near the campus. The third and final balloon launch happened close to 2 in the morning, when the band shifted south and skies cleared on campus.

Meteorological observations were taken during the balloon launches in order to calibrate the rawinsonde to actual ground measurements, as well as between soundings.  Values such as temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction and precipitation were recorded every 15 minutes, whereas snowfall was measured at the top of each hour.  One thing worthy to note with the sounding data was that drier air was in place closer to the ground, which may have kept the intensity of the lake effect snow band somewhat in check.

 The Transect Team:
For the beginning of the night we had the cup anemometer fixed.  We then learned how tornado pods worked.  At around 5 PM we left to drop off three tornado pods to collect data.  The BBC crew followed us and taped our operations and interviewed Dr. Steiger.

Around 1 am we transected the band on 81 going towards Pulaski.  The band was very thin.  In fact, it was only 10 minutes of driving.  Then we picked up the tornado pods after they collected temperature, humidity, and pressure for about 6 hours.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Interviews Coming Soon!

Our data that has been collected so far has gotten many news stations and broadcasting stations ecstatic for more. The NSF, or National Science Foundation, is very excited about our research so far, and companies like the Weather Channel and the Associated Press are interested in doing interviews/stories about our ground-breaking research. This coming Friday and Saturday the BBC(British Broadcasting Company) will be interviewing some members of the team along with the Project Investigators in leau of their future show on Extreme Winter Weather and Lake-Effect Snow to be hopefully aired on the Discovery Channel in the future. Spirits are very high as we continue to study the data and find new, interesting things that we, in some cases, never knew existed! The link below is to the NSF website and their recent story, "Inside a Snowstorm: Scientists Obtain Close-Up Look at Old Man Winter "

The link below allows you to view all the pictures in high resolution.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Operations on January 5th, 2011

Transect Team:
The transect team intercepted a lake effect snow band that had formed between New Haven and Fruit Valley. We started out to the west of the band in Fair Haven where the DOW was set up and drove east on route 104. When we reached Fruit Valley the snow started to fall. It quickly became heavier as we continued east towards Oswego. In Oswego, the snow was falling heavily creating very low visibilities. As we left Oswego, the snow became lighter. When we reached New Haven we turned onto route 104B in order to get to the edge of the band. The snow became very light and eventually stopped. We continued driving away from the band for another 5km in order to gather data outside of the band. We eventually turned around in Texas, NY and headed back to Fair Haven to intercept the band again. This time, the snow became very heavy just outside of Oswego. As we drove into Oswego, the snow became lighter. However, as we continued through the city and into campus, the snow became heavy again. It remained moderate as we drove back west into Cayuga county and eventually stopped as we reached Fair Haven. Overall, it was a successful intercept with nearly two and a half hours of data collected.

Downtown Oswego in lake effect snow band.

Meteorological Measurements Team:
Our task for the night was to record air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, and weather conditions every 15 minutes at the DOW (Doppler-on-Wheels) site in Fair Haven, NY.  We recorded 6.5 hours of data from 7:30 PM Wednesday until 2:00 AM Thursday, January 6th.  It began to snow persistently at 10:30 PM Wednesday night, and it was still snowing at 2:00 AM Thursday when operations ended.  The heaviest snow fell around 1:00 AM Thursday, when our location in Fair Haven was in the core of the lake effect band.  Precipitation transitioned back and forth between graupel (hail embryos) and fluffier dendritic snow (snow crystals) several times.  The DOW that is being used in our research is a radar capable of differentiating types of precipitation particles from one another.  Our team also collected snowflake and graupel samples that will help verify what the radar was "seeing".      

Here are pictures from operations on January 5th in Fair Haven, NY:

Graupel snow particles sticking to Senior Keith Jaszka's hand.

Collecting surface conditions.  From L to R: Senior Evan Duffey, Junior Lacey Pitman, Junior Joe Finlon, Senior Keith Jaszka.

Graupel snow particles collecting on Senior Brett Rathbun's car.

Collecting more measurements and playing around in the snow.  From L to R: Senior Brett Rathbun, Senior Evan Duffey, Junior Joe Finlon.

Sounding Team:
The sounding team's main objective was to release multiple rawindesondes throughout the lake effect event.  While we were waiting for the sonde to calibrate we collected snow samples and made observations of the current conditions.  When we were in the middle of the band it was difficult to see the Campus Center from the side doors of Hewitt.  While we took snow samples there were abrupt changes of pellet like snow on the edge of the band to dendritic snowflakes in the center of the band.

Before our launches we measured the wind speed and direction, temperature, and pressure of the surface.  This allowed us to calibrate the sonde to the true surface measurements.  A sonde typically measures temperature, dew point, pressure, altitude, location, wind speed and direction.  Our first launch we released while we were in the heaviest of the snow.  Unfortunately, the wind increased and the sonde hit a window on Hart.  We were unable to retrieve the dew point data.  On our second launch an hour later we did not receive the sonde's latitude or longitude.  Finally, we launched our third rawindsonde around 10:40 when the band went so far south we did not have any snow.  All of the data was retrieved.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Operations on January 4th

Today's Lake Effect event turned into quite a show for the team tonight, as what was forecast to be a weak event turned out to be a decently organized snow event, with close to a foot falling on campus. Deploying sometime around 3 today, the team set out to Fair Haven, NY with the DOW, a Probe Vehicle, and a majority of the team's personnel, while a few students stayed back at campus to launch weather balloons in and around the band.

Around 4 PM the lake effect band was over Oswego.  The students back at campus released multiple rawindsondes from 4 PM to 12 AM.  At 8:30 PM the edge of the band came over our location in Fair Haven.  From 8:30 to 12:30 some students collected snow samples.  The snow fell at approximately 2 inches per hour in Fair Haven while Oswego got over a foot of snow!

Today's event gave the research team a lot of great data. Some small scale phenomena were observed by the DOW that would never be seen by the National Weather Service's radar. Small swirls (possibly waterspouts) and a larger circulation (possibly a mesoscale low) were seen. The weather balloon team also reported some great results. All and all we could not be happier.

Here are some photos from the day:

The Team arriving at our scan point in Fair Haven:

Dr. Steiger meeting with students and discussing the plans for the operation:

The band while it was still weaker and farther north:

The band as it moved farther south and intensified (and as the sun was going down):

Dr. Steiger and Senior Brett Rathbun in the DOW, observing data with the DOW operators (who are off camera to the left):

Some photos of Campus after our return, over a foot has fallen and it is still snowing:

Also, check out a story WSYR 9 out of Syracuse did on the research team tonight:

 The Sounding Team!

Preparing to launch a Sounding. Left to right: Sophomore Robert Schrom, Dr. Skubis, and Freshman Jake Mulholland

At 3:55 pm the first of the four soundings were launched, which occurred soon after the first few snowflakes were seen. Within the first hour there were 4 lightning strikes as well as thunder. There was at least one lightening strike that was a bright pink. All of the lightning strikes were observed on the southern edge of the band. Small pellet size snowflakes fell soon after the thunder was heard, which increased the snowfall rate.  The snowfall rate was 2 inches per hour and in some cases, it was a little more. Snow measurements were taken every half hour as well as the wind speed. The maximum wind speed was recorded at 4:10 pm as well as the first lightning strike. By 1 am Wednesday morning, nearly 11 inches of snow had fallen and the last sounding was launched.  Pictures were taken of the snowflakes that fell through the air. A mix of dendrites and pellets were recorded in some cases, but the majority of the snowflakes were dendrites.

Monday, January 3, 2011

January 3rd, 2011

Today was an early morning for a few students.  Dr. Scott Steiger reached a student at 7:30am and asked to assist SUNY Oswego meteorology professor, Dr. Steve Skubis in launching a rawinsonde at the SUNY Oswego campus.  A rawinsonde is known as a weather balloon.  The rawinsonde contains sensors to receive temperature, dew point temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, and other parameters as it is launched into the atmosphere.  The launched occurred at 9:04am.  After the rawinsonde launch was completed, all students remained on STANDBY for the rest of the day.  Dr. Scott Steiger stopped the operations of the DOW vehicle at 1:30pm at Williamstown, NY as the band began to weaken as it moved northward into Jefferson County.  The DOW collected radar data of this band from 1:30am-1:30pm.  After operations were stopped, the members of the CSWR brought the DOW vehicle back to Oswego, and they were able to spend the rest of the day resting and saving all the radar data from this event.  Dr. Steiger and the students had a meeting at 7:30pm to discuss the agenda for Tuesday, January 4th.  The 4th may consist of students being able to get trained using and operating the radar, and meeting the members of the NCWR.  This concluded the day of January 3rd.  

January 2nd, 2011

Today was the day for all ten underclassmen to arrive back to Oswego for the start of the Lake Effect Research Project.  The program officially started on January 3rd.  January 3rd was going to be the day for all underclassmen to be trained on the DOW (Doppler on Wheels) vehicle.  The DOW carries a Dual-Polarmetric radar which can scan precipitation in horizontal and vertical beams.  This allows the ability to locate rotations inside the Lake-Effect band, as well as the precipitation falling from the band.  The picture seen at the top of the page shows the DOW that will be used for Lake-Effect research.  However, weather had changed, and a Lake-Effect event was forecasted to occur from the evening hours of January 2nd through the mid afternoon on January 3rd.  They had decided to delay training the students on the DOW and gather information from this Lake-Effect band.  A few underclassmen arrived to campus early enough on the 2nd to assist the project director (Dr. Scott Steiger) and members of the Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR).  Starting at 5:30pm, we traveled to our first location, near Copenhagen, NY.  We arrived there at 7:30pm and began scanning the Lake-Effect band for the next few hours.  The students that came by were able to spend some time inside the DOW vehicle to see the type of information we were receiving from the radar.  After everything began to run smoothly with the radar for the members of CSWR, the students and Dr. Steiger traveled back to Oswego to meet with the rest of the students that had now arrived back to Oswego, and have a meeting.  Before we had our first meeting at 11pm, Dr. Steiger and the members of CSWR had decided to relocate because the band was too far south to satisfy our needs.  They moved to Williamstown, NY and arrived there around 1am on January 3rd.  After the meeting, Dr. Steiger brought four other students to visit the DOW and remained there for a few hours, before the students headed back to Oswego to get some rest.  The DOW vehicle remained in Williamstown throughout the night into the morning hours of January 3rd.