May 10, 2009 to June 15, 2010
Project Location: 
High Plains
Project Description: 
VORTEX2 Domain (red outline) and Key Sites.

The Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX) is a multi-agency field program to investigate

  1. tornadogenesis, maintenance, and demise,
  2. tornado near-ground wind field,
  3. relationships among tornadoes, their parent thunderstorms, and the larger-scale environment, and
  4. numerical weather predication of supercells and tornadoes.

The first VORTEX field phase (VORTEX1) was conducted in 1994-1995 and advanced the understanding of the kinematic similarities between tornadic and nontornadic supercell thunderstorms and the implied sensitivity of supercell evolution and tornadogenesis to fine-scale heterogeneity, both pre-storm and storm-induced.


Photo by Linda Lusk.
Southeast Colorado

The second field phase of VORTEX (VORTEX2) will take place over a broad region of the central United States Great Plains during the months of May-June, 2009-2010. VORTEX2 will take full advantage of cutting-edge remote and in situ mobile and fixed observing systems, as well as data assimilation techniques that can improve analyses by combining the dense observations with governing dynamical equations.

VORTEX2 is designed to improve our understanding of tornadogenesis, which ultimately will better allow us to assess the likelihood of tornadoes in supercell thunderstorms and possibly even tornado intensity, longevity, and cyclic behavior. Moreover, VORTEX2 is expected to improve vastly our understanding of the range of tornado structures and the relationships between tornado structure and characteristics of the parent thunderstorm.

Field Study in 2009 and 2010

For more information about the VORTEX2 2009-2010 field activities see the following links:


VORTEX 1994-1995 Information

VORTEX 1994 Observing Networks
Observed Reflectivity (left) and 6-hr WRF model forecast (right) at 0300 UTC 29 March 2007
Watkins, CO
Moore, OK, 8 May 2003


All photos copyright University Corporation for Atmospheric Research unless otherwise noted.