20 December 2013

The End of Phase One

This post will be fairly brief. OWLeS Phase One (December 4-21) has officially ended, a few days early in fact. All 100+ people working on the project are now on Christmas break until January 2. After that, we will return to upstate New York for 3 1/2 weeks for Phase Two to resume data collection until January 29.

Phase One went extremely well for the most part. There were 5 total IOPs (Intensive Operating Periods) and 6 cases in total. It appears as if the instruments from the various groups were working the vast majority of the time, allowing us to collect great datasets for each of the IOPs. I've been looking at a lot of the data from the King Air, including the radar data, and it looks very promising for research.

Snow-wise, from December 7-18 a total of 99 inches of lake-effect snow fell at the OWLeS site in North Redfield, as measured by the Utah group. About 40% of this snow fell in one day! We've enjoyed all the snow, but now we are ready for a break and I'm certainly looking forward to going back to my hometown in Pennsylvania to see family and relax a bit.

I will try to post once or twice over break - one of these will be all about the King Air! So keep checking in. Also, if there are any big lake-effect events while we're gone, I'll post an update about that as well. Otherwise, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

16 December 2013

The Research Flight That Was Meant to Happen

We had an incredibly interesting day/evening yesterday, but before I get into the details, I wanted to start by mentioning that I traveled up to North Redfield, NY today (on the Tug Hill plateau east of Lake Ontario) to RAISE one of our instruments about 3 feet higher in order to keep it out of the snow. The instrument was already ~5 feet above the ground and the snow was about a foot or so below it. This is at one of our ground sites, which I've talked about in previous posts, that is run by folks from the University of Utah and has received a total of 80 inches of snow in the last 7 day with more to come this week. Here's one photo I took today - the rest can be found at the very bottom of this post!

Snow 4-5 feet deep at the OWLeS ground site in North Redfield, NY

The Flight That Almost Wasn't

So I think I should tell this like a story, in chronological order. This may be a bit lengthy, and I apologize, but looking back I'm quite amazed at how everything went last night and how it just all worked out so perfectly in the end. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this and aren't dozing off 5 minutes from now haha.

Flight Plan - At the OWLeS 1 pm weather briefing yesterday (Sunday), it appeared as if a relatively weak long-fetch single band was going to develop sometime around sunset but die off during the overnight hours. We weren't expecting anything spectacular for sure, with some of us perhaps even thinking that it wasn't worth it to even fly the King Air. Ultimately, we decided we would have a 5:30 pm takeoff, fly for 3.5 hours collecting data over the weak band, and call it a night.

15 December 2013

5 Feet!!!

Before I review our most recent event, I wanted to show you all a video I made from the research flight I was on this past Tuesday (see below). We have a small camera aboard the King Air that takes a photograph every second, so you can actually take all of those photos and put them into a video - at the speed I have it, the video shows what it would look like flying at ~8,500 mph! Anyway, pay attention to the movement of the clouds and how they almost seem to "bubble up" as we fly by them. Enjoy!

So in my last post I let it be known that a big lake-effect snow event was in store, with possibly up to 3 feet of snow in some locations. It turns out that 60+ inches (5 feet) of snow ended up falling up in the hills east of Lake Ontario, with 66 inches in 78 hours at one of our OWLeS ground sites! Feel free to check out the blog from the University of Utah group who was stationed at that site during the event for photos.

I ended up flying in the King Air on Wednesday as well during the height of the event, when they were seeing snow falling at 3-4 inches/hour. In the end, this was a GREAT long-fetch lake-effect event! We collected a lot of very good data that will be analyzed in the years to come. We really could not have asked for a better event to study.