Plymouth State University hosts Doppler Radar Mobile Unit

February 13th, 2014 by Lynn

     Sophisticated weather equipment open to public visits

    Doppler on Wheels vehicle collecting severe weather data during a tornado. Photo courtesy Kevin Burris.

    PLYMOUTH — Meteorology students at Plymouth State University and local public schools will get a first-hand look at one of the world’s most sophisticated pieces of weather research technology, as the Doppler-on-Wheels (DOW) mobile radar system spends the next three weeks in the Plymouth area.

    In addition to PSU students and faculty using the DOW to study weather science, students in Plymouth, Campton, Rumney and Bedford will get onsite visits, as well as the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, the Weather Discovery Center in North Conway, the Rey Center in Waterville Valley, and the Mount Washington Observatory in Gorham.

    The DOW vehicle, which has been featured on the Discovery Channel’s “Storm Chasers” show, will arrive in Plymouth Feb. 7 courtesy of a National Science Foundation Center for Severe Weather Research grant application submitted by PSU Associate Professor of Meteorology Dr. Sam Miller. The DOW will be available for public viewing in Plymouth Feb. 14 at the Town Common, and DOW staffers will speak about how the vehicle has been used to study thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes and winter weather such as lake-effect snow.

    “It’s wonderful to get it here,” said Dr. Miller. “It’s going to be really useful to us because it’s a great outreach tool to raise awareness with the public, it’s wonderful as an educational tool for teaching a variety of classes and it’s great for research purposes.”

    Miller said some of the projects students are anticipating using the weather radar unit to study are freezing precipitation, heavy snow squalls, mixed precipitation events and other winter weather in northern New England.

    A group of engineers travel with the vehicle to train students and faculty about how the equipment works and to assist with research projects developed by PSU.

    The National Science Foundation-funded DOW program has three vehicles and spends about six months each year on the road; two months typically is spent storm-chasing during tornado and hurricane season, and the balance is spent on education and other research projects, such as the time in Plymouth. The schedule for the DOW in our area is as follows:

    Feb. 10
    9 – 10 a.m. Blue Heron School, Squam Lake
    11 a.m. to 1:00 pm, Holderness Public School

    Feb. 11
    All day, Plymouth Regional High School and Plymouth Elementary

    Feb. 12
    All day, Bedford High School

    Feb. 13
    Morning, Rumney Elementary School
    Afternoon, Campton Elementary

    Feb. 14
    9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Plymouth Town Common (public availability)

    Feb. 17-18
    Hartman Union Building, Plymouth State University

    Feb. 19
    All day, Weather Discovery Center, North Conway

    Feb. 20
    Morning,Weather Discovery Center, N. Conway
    Afternoon, HUB

    Feb. 21
    All day, Rey Center, Waterville Valley

    Feb. 22-23
    All day, McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, Concord

    Feb. 26
    Base of Mount Washington Auto Road

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