COLUMBUS, GA (WRBL)-A new research project titled PERiLS will focus on the Southeast. Scientist from NOAA and 9 universities will spend two years, collecting and analyzing data about how tornadoes form and how they are different from the ones in traditional Tornado Alley.
PERiLS which stands for Propagation, Evolution and Rotation in Linear Storms will examine tornadoes that form within lines of storms called QLCS (Quasi-Linear-Convective-Systems). These tornadoes often form quickly along the leading edge of a line of storms but you can also find them embedded within the storm.
While the southeast can have supercells or the “kidney bean” shaped storms, QLCS tornadoes are often the main type that we see.
Dr. Tony Lyza is a researcher from the Corporative Institute for Severe Weather and High Impact Weather Research Operations. He said that ultimate goal of this project is to understand how and why these form.
“We want to understand if there are ways to anticipate them better than we can now. Where and when the circulations will form in these lines of storms and when they may become tornadic,” said Dr. Lyza.
Scientist will use mobile radars and over 100 stationary instruments that will collect key data about the atmosphere before and during the storm. Once the storm has passed, the damaged will be assessed.
“I think that understanding which damaged is caused by tornadoes and which damage is not caused by tornadoes with these lines is a lot more complicated than people realize.” Said Dr. Lyza
Not only will scientist study tornadoes, they will also study the socioeconomic factors that make this region vulnerable. According to the US Census Bureau, the Southeast region has seen a 10.1% increase in population over the last decade making it the fastest growing region. Higher population density, poverty and the use of manufactured homes makes the Southeast a highly vulnerable region for tornado injuries and fatalities compared to the Central and Southern Plains and Midwest.
Previous research projects like VORTEX-SE (VORTEX Southeast) have studied both the science and socioeconomic impacts of tornadoes in this region.
“I think the way we started viewing tornadoes across the southeast actually began with VORTEX-SE” said Lyza “ I think it really started to open our eyes to the differences between the Plains environments versus the southeast environments.”
PERiLS will combine new data with data collected during the VORTEX-SE project to put an exclamation point on tornadoes in the southeast. Even though how tornadoes form may be somewhat the same, the environments that they form are different.
This research will lead to better preparation and increased warning time during severe weather events.