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Thunderstorm Research Project Stories
Thunderstorm Research Project

Thunderstorm Project Begins Observations
Thunderstorm Project Goes Into Winter Quarters
Song of Thunderstorm Project Wives

picture of aircraft used in project
 Thunderstorm Project Photo Gallery from the National Weather Service Southern Region

Project Website from the National Weather Service Southern Region

thunderstorm project begins observations

Dr. Horace R. Byers
Director, Thunderstorm Project

Down in Orlando, Florida, the Thunderstorm Project is well underway. Though its field headquarters are located in Orlando, the Project headquarters are in Chicago, Illinois, under Region Three. At the present time, there are 54 automatic recording surface stations, approximately one mile apart, south of Orlando in an area 7 miles wide by 13 miles long. All of these stations are serviced once daily with the double register, the rain gauge, microbarograph and hygrothermograph charts being changed every 24 hours. There are also six Army 658 raob-rawin stations located just outside of the area. This Army equipment is operated by Weather Bureau personnel. Communication between all of these upper air stations, headquarters in Orlando, and the controlling radar station located west of Orlando is carried on by means of the Project’s radio network.

Along with the detailed microanalysis of the usual surface and upper air meteorological information, the project has nine P-61’s (the Black Widow) and three gliders assigned to it in order to get better information as to what takes place in a thunderstorm. These planes have instruments to record vertical currents, new electronic temperature measuring instruments, radio altimeters and radar scopes, which will be photographed, and it is hoped that the electrostatical field recorders will be received some time this summer.

aircraft used in project
F-15A, a modified P-61 which was used in the Thunderstorm Project

Surface maps are being plotted and drawn for every 5 minutes during the time of all thunderstorms or large convective showers. There were twenty such periods in May which is far above the climatological average. Some of the thunderstorms recorded so far have been small cloudbursts with up to five-tenths of an inch or rainfall recorded per five minute period. The total rainfall recorded for any one storm has been approximately 2 inches in one hour. Upper air analysis of raobs and rawins started on May 27 and the airplanes are scheduled to begin flying through storms the first part of June. Data received from all sources will be analyzed.

Besides the field headquarters in Orlando, another sub-field headquarters has been organized at Station 26 in the surface network, on Lake Tohopekaligia where 3 temporary Army buildings have been erected. This serves as headquarters for the personnel that service the surface network, the personnel working on the 658 stations, and the personnel working on the 654 stations. Besides the 3 buildings, there is a 658 rawin and 1 of the mobile radiosonde stations located there. It is a well organized station, even to the nice beach for off-duty swimming a short distance down the road.

This station is far from the nearest drinking water supply, and the need for a well was felt. The equipment for a pump type well consisted of pump, pipe, and a driving point. The latter caused Mr. L. M. Dye, meteorologist in charge of the Observations Section of the Project, some embarrassment. It seems that after driving the pipe and point approximately 8 feet into the ground, they decided to move the pump to a new location. The pipe came out, but not the driving point. At Mr. Dye’s suggestion, the men dug a small hole so that the point could be reached. However, this hole was quite narrow and the Meteorologist in charge of the Observations Section volunteered to be lowered by his ankles head first. This happened a bit more rapidly and violently than intended, and even though he did recover the pipe point, Mr. Dye had a hard time explaining to everyone just how he got that coating of sand during the middle of the day.

In: “The BREEZE”, Volume 3, No. 6, July 10, 1946. Pp. 2-3.

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Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

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