Tornadoes have always intrigued us and the movies, Twister and the TIV-2 solidified our desire to get into the eye of the storm. We might finally have our day with the Hummer H3T Storm Chaser.
The VORTEX2 Project's built themselves a rig out of a Hummer H3T in order to gather data for tornado research, which will ultimately lay the ground work for a new tornado warning system. Think of it as a real-life version of Bill Paxton's character's Dodge Ram pickup and the "Dorothy" sensor pod package from the movie Twister.
According to radar expert and long-time tornado researcher, Dr. Joshua Wurman; "Nobody really knows for certain yet what happens inside a tornado, the best way to learn is to measure conditions with sensors in pods and stick pods." The sensor pods that have been developed for reading a tornado's strength will need a heavy duty vehicle that can get them close enough to the action and in the storm chaser's mind, there's no better vehicle choice than the recently released Hummer H3T.
They've chosen to use the H3T for a number of reasons. First, the vehicle's almost vertical-oriented windshield and small side glass makes it less susceptible to large hail, dust and debris thrown around by a tornado. Second, the high ground clearance, front/rear locking hubs and four-wheel-drive system allows the truck to ford a 24-inch flood as well as navigate debris ridden back roads; a necessity when chasing a large storm.
The VORTEX2 team built a commercial marine-grade plywood covered, 1.75-inch square steel tube frame into the bed of the H3T to house the tornado sensor pods with a DiamondBack bed cover to help protect it all from severe weather. They've also outfitted the H3T with an advanced communications system featuring a radio tracking system, three GPS receivers, two cellular transmitters and serial cables connected to the pod box which allow meteorologists to download all of the data recovered from a chase via two laptops located in the interior of the truck.
This sounds like a pretty serious rig and we're looking forward to finding out how the data acquired will be used. And to think, Hummer might be dead in a matter of months. [via Hummer Storm Chaser]