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How the Tornado Intercept Vehicle Works


Portable Weather Station
The TIV, after the addition of the IMAX camera turret, parked beside two Doppler on Wheels units.
The TIV, after the addition of the IMAX camera turret, parked beside two Doppler on Wheels units.
Photo courtesy George Kourounis

Since it can survive very high winds and hail, the TIV provides a good opportunity to collect tornado data. Inside the TIV are a variety of meteorological instruments, including:

  • A blade anemometer, which measures wind speed and force in one dimension
  • A sonic anemometer, which also measures wind speed and force, but in three dimensions
  • Two global positioning system (GPS) units
  • Tools for measuring temperature, pressure and humidity

Another weather research tool, the Doppler on Wheels (DOW), also uses the same instruments in addition to a mobile Doppler radar. The DOW, however, must stay between two and eight miles away from a tornado. Since the TIV houses the same instruments as the DOW, scientists can combine their data to create a more complete picture of the life of a tornado.

Now, let's look at what happens when the TIV finds a tornado.