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Stormchasers Hunt Tornadoes for Science

Getty photographer Drew Angerer joined a group of researchers chasing supercell thunderstorms to see how tornadoes form.

Meteorologists from the Center for Severe Weather Research began their annual field research project this week, pursuing supercell storms and watching for the formation of tornadoes. A supercell--usually, but not necessarily, a thunderstorm--contains a deep and persistent rotating updraft called a mesocyclone. 

Above: A meteorologist on the team watches as a supercell thunderstorm bears down on the area on May 9, 2017 in Lamb County, Texas. 

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

The Doppler on Wheels vehicle scans a supercell thunderstorm in Elbert County near Agate, Colo. The truck can carry the radar directly into storms, allowing scientists to scan storms and tornadoes and make 3-D maps of wind and debris.

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Research team members observe a supercell thunderstorm in Lamb County, Texas.

 

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Tim Marshall, a 40-year veteran of storm chasing, watches a supercell near Agate, Colo.

The team hopes that gaining knowledge about tornado formation and structure will result in better predictions, saving lives and property.

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Support scientist Rachel Humphrey monitors a supercell from the tornado scout vehicle near Agate, Colo.

 

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

A tornado scout vehicle and the Doppler on Wheels vehicle chase after a storm in Olustee, Okla.

 

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Cloud-to-ground lightning strikes during a supercell thunderstorm in Lamb County, Texas. 

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Marcus Gutierrez, driver of the Doppler vehicle, plays catch in a Walmart parking lot while waiting for severe thunderstorms to develop in Childress, Texas. 

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Tim Marshall looks out the window of a tornado scout vehicle as the group tracks a supercell thunderstorm in Quanah, Texas. 

Marshall became interested in weather after an F-4 tornado passed about a half-mile from his home in Oak Lawn, Illinois, when he was ten years old. The 1967 tornado killed 33 people and injured 500. 

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Center for Severe Weather Research intern Hunter Anderson prepares tornado pods as a severe thunderstorm moves into the area in Paducah, Texas. 

The storm did not produce a tornado, but the group was prepared to deploy the pods if one developed. The pods are heavy, metal discs with instruments that measure and map winds at ground level. 

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Mammatus clouds, often associated with severe thunderstorms, hover in the sky behind a horse near Clovis, New Mexico. 

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Hunter Anderson, left, a meteorology student at St. Cloud State University, and support scientist Tim Marshall look at radar and storm models on a smartphone on outside of Limon, Colo. 

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Hunter Anderson consults with Rachel Humphrey, support scientist and driver of a tornado scout vehicle, as a supercell thunderstorm bears down on the area in Lamb County, Texas. 

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

A supercell thunderstorm develops in Elbert County outside of Limon, Colo. 

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Drew Angerer / Getty Images