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Thread: Kind of an Odd Musing

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    Member Karen St John's Avatar
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    Default Kind of an Odd Musing

    Driving home from Lansing this evening, I drove by a construction site with night lights blazing. I was reminded of the searchlights employed during the Second World War for spotting enemy aircraft. I wondered if any public safety had ever used searchlights for spotting storms?

    I wonder if that would work? I'm not suggesting chasers or spotters start shining tornadoes...pulling a large trailer in severe weather doesn't strike me as something I would wish to do. But how about an emergency services vehicle going on station with one?
    In the criminal justice system, weather based offenses are considered especially severe. In Tornado Alley, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious storms are members of a elite squad known as the Severe Weather Unit. These are their stories.

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    Member Jeff Turner's Avatar
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    Well you would need a large searchlight on a truck. I guess one could "shed some light" on a twister. Probably not practical (?).
    Jeff Turner
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    Stormtrack supporter Jason Haller's Avatar
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    I have often wondered about night vision goggles or infrared goggles. I'm sure they have been tried but have wondered if they would work. Problem i could see with light intensification gear is them overloading during a lightning flash. Infared i could see not working well because of lack of temperature differnce between rain and clouds.

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    Ive seen funnels gently illuminated by the lights of a small town, im sure the searchlight would work but the area you could illuminate would be fairly small. Perhaps a cheaper (less equipment) solution would be a flare gun. Just get fairly close, make sure your in the inflow and fire a longer duration non-colored flare?

    This is the best that i could find, red color and only 7 Second duration but an impressive 450 feet: http://www.orionsignals.com/applicat...oduct/101.html

    I would like to think there is a solution, but the search light would certainly do the job.
    Last edited by Terrence Cook; 05-13-2012 at 10:48 AM.
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    Member Karen St John's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terrence Cook View Post
    Ive seen funnels gently illuminated by the lights of a small town, im sure the searchlight would work but the area you could illuminate would be fairly small. Perhaps a cheaper (less equipment) solution would be a flare gun. Just get fairly close, make sure your in the inflow and fire a longer duration non-colored flare?

    This is the best that i could find, red color and only 7 Second duration but an impressive 450 feet: http://www.orionsignals.com/applicat...oduct/101.html

    I would like to think there is a solution, but the search light would certainly do the job.
    Perhaps something like a parachute flare from WW2...
    In the criminal justice system, weather based offenses are considered especially severe. In Tornado Alley, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious storms are members of a elite squad known as the Severe Weather Unit. These are their stories.

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    Member Eric Matthews's Avatar
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    I don't know about search lights, but Thermal Imaging Cameras are amazing. I work as a firefighter in Overland Park, KS and responded many years ago to a reported lightning strike to the residence. While using the TIC to look at the roof of the house, I was shocked at how well I could see the cloud structure. One bit of caution, just as Jason wondered above, lightning bolts are VERY bright! I could see the cloud structure at least 1/2-1 mile away with the TIC.
    Unfortunately I don't have one I can chase with, but I'd love to try it some day!

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    What about infraSOUND detectors? Surely strong tornadoes emit a distinct audio signature that might be detected at night. This solution might also work in a situation where the tornado is rain-wrapped....

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    Member Eric Matthews's Avatar
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    That is brilliant. I did a little searching and located the NOAA Earth System Research Lab on their Infrasonics Program What is the latest in tornado researching technology?http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/programs/infrasound/
    Here is a summary listed on their site.

    ETL is currently working on a system for detecting very low frequency sounds from tornadoes as a system complementary to Doppler radar. It continues to show promise as a technique for filling detection gaps and improving prediction times. This is a "work in progress". NOAA supports or has supported a number of other technologies, including:

    A seismic detection technique to warn of and locate tornado touchdown points.
    An electromagnetic detection technique (with a hope that something like a low-cost tornado "smoke alarm" could evolve)
    A pressure detector prototype suitable for large scale deployment in tornado prone areas to provide needed knowledge about the cores of tornadoes.


    Infrasonics is the study of sound below the range of human hearing. These low-frequency sounds are produced by a variety of geophysical processes including earthquakes, severe weather, volcanic activity, geomagnetic activity, ocean waves, avalanches, turbulence aloft, and meteors and by some man-made sources such as aircraft and explosions.

    Infrasonic and near-infrasonic sound may provide advanced warning and monitoring of these extreme events.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zach Young View Post
    What about infraSOUND detectors? Surely strong tornadoes emit a distinct audio signature that might be detected at night. This solution might also work in a situation where the tornado is rain-wrapped....

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    Stormtrack supporter Jerry Prsha's Avatar
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    Isn't this what Tim Samaras is working on this year?
    Jerry Prsha - St. Louis, MO
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    When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." Stephen Roberts

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    Stormtrack supporter Shawn Gossman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Haller View Post
    I have often wondered about night vision goggles or infrared goggles. I'm sure they have been tried but have wondered if they would work. Problem i could see with light intensification gear is them overloading during a lightning flash. Infared i could see not working well because of lack of temperature differnce between rain and clouds.
    If it could work, night vision of some sort would be an excellent idea! I mean it is 2012, we should have something to see them in the dark by now

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