Wednesday, August 17, 2011

So Long, Farewell, Adios, Au revoir, Arrivederci, Goodbye

Wrote this blog about a month ago and Hurricane Irene interrupted its publication so here it is...

A bittersweet day for TTUHRT as WEMITE 1 and WEMITE 2 towers were officially decomissioned. The two towers were dismantled and their respective trailers scrapped. These two towers were the backbone of our instrumentation fleet for nearly a decade, making over 35 individual deployments for 21 seperate tropical cyclones. WEMITE 1 was also the first ruggedized, self-sustaining, meteorological research tower to be deployed in the path of a landfalling hurricane (Bonnie - 1998). Both towers were mounted and transported on a trailer and collected high resolution data (10Hz) at multiple levels including the official measuring height of 10 m. WEMITE 1 was the doctoral dissertation project of then graduate student John Schroeder, who is now the principal investigator for TTUHRT and the director of the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech. Data collected from these platforms has appeared in 10 peer-reviewed journal papers, over 25 conference preprints, 9 technical reports, and 6 doctoral dissertations. The records also represent a very large percentage of the complete wind records for a "who's who" list of landfalling hurricanes in the US in the past 13 years. The data collected by these stations also shed light on the characteristics of hurricane winds in an effort to answer our long standing question "is wind, wind?". Recently the database is being applied toward investigating how the turbulence associated with hurricane winds changes with location within the hurricane. The collected information will likely live on for years to come and continue to yield valuable information on hurricanes at landfall.

The towers' final deployment was for Hurricane Rita (2005) and did not participate in the following hurricane seasons of 2006-2010. The platforms have been replaced by the new 2.25 m StickNet probes. The transition to StickNet came about primarily due to the need for greater spatial coverage of hurricane landfalls. With the 2 WEMITE towers plus 3 portable meterological towers, a typical deployment provided 5 observations points. Each tower required at least 1 hour of deployment time for a crew of 4 people. In total, 3 vehicles with at least 6-8 crew members was needed. With the development of StickNet, only 2 vehicles with a total crew of 4 could deploy 24 observing systems, with a deployment time for each probe of less than 10 minutes. The cost/benefit outweighed the lower and "non-official" measurement height. In the climate of rising fuel costs, the reduction of the required number of vehicles also played a large role in the transition. As for the future of StickNet, we hope to expand the fleet to 48 probes using 4 truck/trailer teams.

So this blog was written as a tribute to WEMITE 1 and WEMITE 2. So long and farewell!