As Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas, a team of researchers from the National Sever Storms Laboratory (NSSL) was on site to collect data for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), though there could have been more acronyms involved. During this dangerous outing, a Ram pickup played the role of a noble steed.
The modified Ram is referred to as a “Mobile Mesonet,” and similar to the meteorological observation towers found across Oklahoma, it’s fitted with a host of remote-sensing equipment, which are used to collect weather data.
This data collection was a bit more involved than the typical storm reading, though, as the crew obtained weather balloon data that is said to be unprecedented during the existence of the NOAA. The team hopes that this new information can be used to mitigate the damages caused by future natural disasters.
In order to collect this data the crew needed to push further into Hurricane Harvey, and the Ram pickup enabled them to do so by braving the strongest winds generated by the storm near the eyewall. According to NSSL storm chaser and Ph.D research meteorologist Sean Waugh, driving is the scariest part of the venture, even scarier than exiting the vehicle to setup the equipment.
As for the findings, the unprecedented data revealed that the precipitable water value was possibly the highest it’s ever been in the continental United States. To clarify, the precipitable water value is the “total amount of water that could potentially fall from a column of air,” and during Hurricane Harvey it was as high as 3.26 inches. However, it’s possible that Hurricane Irma – the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic – could surpass that number.
And that, folks, is how a Ram pickup assisted in the accrual of critical data points during Hurricane Harvey.
Source: Gears of Biz