Truck Equipment Industry Helps Obtain Ground-Breaking Tornado Data

A truck equipped with some of the best accessories in the industry has helped to achieve a feat previously unattainable in the dangerous scientific field of tornado recording. The A.R.E. 2010 GMC SIERRA “Twistex Probe” Vehicle enabled Tim Samaras, featured on Discovery Channel’s Stormchasers television program, to record “historic” tornado measurements.

Earlier this year, when Samaras was hoping to build a new chase truck, Mastercraft Truck Equipment in Englewood, Colorado, put together what Tim refers to as the “ultimate tornado chase vehicle.” The truck is outfitted with a custom A.R.E. Deluxe Commercial Truck Cap and Tommy Gate G2-Series 1,500-pound capacity hydraulic liftgate.

Other additions include: an Eclipse navigation system with back-up camera, Jotto Desk mobile office laptop holders, Luverne hitch steps, mega steps, and grill insert, a Warn XD 9000I Winch system, as well as numerous square sensors covering the hood and cab.

This vehicle enabled Samaras and his crew to record some first-of-its-kind information about tornadoes. In order to obtain this data, Tim needed to deploy a 400-pound “probe” instrument, his own invention, in the path of a highly-destructive tornado while at the peak of its powers. On May 22 in South Dakota, he did precisely that.

“The measurements we collected that day were historic, as we measured the wind speed of the passing tornado at two different heights. This confirmed that the boundary layer (the highest rate of change wind speed) is less than two feet high,” Samaras said. “This measurement would not have been possible without a way of quickly getting the instrument off the truck--and the liftgate most certainly has risen to the challenge.”

The data collected is another step in further understanding tornadoes and will help engineers in how they design and build structures in the future. “This information-- along with future deployments will be very useful for engineers to construct buildings in the Midwest to help resist these types of winds. If we can build better buildings--then we'd eventually save lives.”

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