From air, land and atmosphere: Massive project probes inner lives of supercells

We know the strongest and deadliest tornadoes form from a specific type of thunderstorm... the supercell. However, important areas inside supercell thunderstorms remain unexplored. That changes this spring as scientists hit the road to study these powerful storms as part of the field project TORUS - which is short for Targeted Observation by Radars and UAS of Supercells.

The supercell: The deadliest and most destructive tornadoes often come from this specific type of rotating thunderstorm.

Now, scientists have embarked on a new study to better understand how these severe thunderstorms form tornadoes, with the goal of improving forecasts.

More than 50 NOAA and partner researchers will travel to where storms are predicted – a 367,000-square-mile area from North Dakota to Texas, and Iowa to Wyoming and Colorado – in an armada of vehicles outfitted with a variety of tools to measure the atmosphere.

With the latest technology at their fingertips, scientists will gather data with four unmanned aircraft systems, weather balloons, mobile radars, a mobile lidar, truck-mounted instruments and NOAA's WP-3D Orion "Hurricane Hunter" aircraft.

It’s quite a project as you can see in this latest Bite-sized Science video from NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory.