Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sampling the Sky

Today we have been examining lake-effect snowfall in the area around Syracuse and the Finger Lakes. Since my team concentrates primarily on the Tug Hill Plateau, we essentially had a day off and opted to drive to the Penn Yan airport to check out the University of Wyoming King Air research aircraft before its scheduled noon departure.

The King Air is a really cool instrument for studying lake-effect and other storms.  It has a number of "probes" that sample small particles in clouds and help us to understand the small "microphysical" processes that contribute to snow formation.

It also has a cloud radar and cloud lidar, which tell us about the characteristics of the clouds and storm above and below the flight track.  The concept is similar to the weather radars you are familiar with, but we generally collect a "curtain" of data above and below the flight track rather than scanning the storm like a weather radar.

The inside is more cramped than Delta economy class.  The main reason for this is that most of the cabin is taken up by electronics, computers, and instruments.

We are hoping to examine snow on the Tug Hill Plateau tomorrow afternoon and evening.  As we drove home this evening, it snowed harder and harder as we ascended the plateau.

We're hoping this is a harbinger for things to come.

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