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Meteorology 101: Blogger's Vantage Pro2 records invisible weather phenomenon

Meteorology 101: Blogger's Vantage Pro2 records invisible weather phenomenon

What in the weather world is a “clear air vortex”?

Well, we just happen to know someone who not only knows what it is, but had one of these weather phenomena hit his house in Oklahoma. Aaron Tuttle was able to use his weather station data and web cams to capture the invisible event. Aaron believes his is the “first well-documented case of a direct hit from a clear air vortex with surface instrumentation.” And that “surface instrumentation"? A Vantage Pro2.

Aaron does a great job of telling you all about clear air vortexes in his fascinating blog post on ATs Weather, but we’ll chime in too.

Most clear air turbulence happens way up in the troposphere. Sometimes turbulence can be in the form of a vortex. We’ve all  heard about the Polar Vortex, the counterclockwise flow that keeps cold air near the poles (until it doesn’t and that cold air dips down and chills areas far from the polar regions). We know about the dangerous vortexes of tornados and cyclones. 

But what was so special about Aaron’s vortex? 

Air -- moving or not -- is invisible. When a vortex forms close to the ground, dust and debris get picked and voila, NOW  you can see it. Vortices that form near the ground include dust devils and waterspouts. When you see a swirling funnel of dust out in the desert or a dry field, or a waterspout swirling over a lake, you know what you are looking at. They are dramatic, but mostly harmless.


In this still image from Aaron's web cam, the skies are clear but debris is flying around showing that a harmless, invisible little twister was visiting.

But Aaron could have been looking right at the vortex that hit his house and never had a clue. Until he looked at his weather station data.


Check out the evidence: graphs of Aaron's Vantage Pro2 data on pressure, wind speed and wind direction.

We’ll let Aaron explain what data and facts he analyzed to determine what happened that day. Thanks, Aaron, for demonstrating not only how to use your weather station data to understand what’s going out there, but also how to have fun being a forensic meteorologist.

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