SCIENCE INSIDE A TORNADO - Decoding the EF5

SCIENCE INSIDE A TORNADO - Decoding the EF5

Scientists place instruments inside a tornado to learn why one supercell produces tornadoes and another does not. Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Leigh Orf takes a different approach by growing storms that produce EF5 tornadoes in a supercomputer.

To license tornado videos contact [email protected]

Rare EF5 tornadoes produce wind speeds estimated over 200 mph. Many people ignore tornado warnings because of too many false alarms. Others don’t respond because they don’t see a tornado.

The National Weather Service has the difficult task of trying to warn the public. But because we still don’t understand why one supercell produces a tornado and why another does not the NWS warns the majority of supercells. To reduce the “cried wolf effect” scientists are trying to figure out why one supercell produces tornadoes and why another does not.

Every Spring, scientists attempt to collect the data needed by deploying instruments inside a tornado and by scanning them with mobile radar as close as possible. Atmospheric scientist Dr. Leigh Orf is taking a different approach by successfully growing superstorms that produce EF5 tornadoes in a supercomputer. Using the Blue Waters supercomputer at the University of Illinois, Dr. Orf is able to simulate supercells at the highest resolution possible with today's hardware. This breakthrough technology has brought an alien anatomy to light. We now have the tools to see through the skin of the storm into an organized system of currents and what the supercomputer is telling us is that many of our previous theories were wrong. But, is this superstorm growing and living inside a computer a true representation of nature? One of the ways to help validate these incredible simulations is to compare them with actual storm footage.

All Storm Video Copyright Hank Schyma 2017
Storm simulations provided by Dr. Leigh Orf
Music by: Hank Schyma, Dan Workman and Christine Wu.
SCIENCE INSIDE A TORNADO - Decoding the EF5 backup