Chasing Tornadoes With Lenovo Semi-Rugged PCs

Starting Friday, computer manufacturer Lenovo is partnering with the Center for Severe Weather Research to chase tornadoes across the United States in the name of science. The VORTEX2 tornado research project is a multimillion-dollar operation with a fleet of specially equipped vehicles dedicated to tracking down and studying tornadoes. Lenovo is providing the research team Think-branded PCs to help with the effort.

Starting in Norman, Okla., research meteorologist Dr. Joshua Wurman, president of the CSWR, is leading the research team that will travel across Tornado Alley, spanning 500,000 square miles across parts of seven states for five weeks to gather information on tornados. Here, Wurman stands atop the latest Doppler on Wheels, DOW7, with a Lenovo ThinkPad notebook. The DOW7 itself is a mobile radar that transmits information to mission control, where a stack of eight PCs crunches numbers and coordinates field operations.

With more than 100 scientists, 40 specifically designed vehicles and 500,000 square miles being covered by the CSWR team, having a reliable mission control center is crucial for logistics and analyzing data. For this trip, mission headquarters is equipped with eight ThinkCentre M58p desktops. Each of the different PCs is crucial in making the CSWR's research program work. Connected to the Internet, the ThinkCentre PCs crunch data, navigate, translate and display radar information. Additionally, these desktops are tasked with tracking Wurman and his team, keeping the researchers close to the action, but out of harm's way.

Sitting inside the DOW6, a member of the CSWR research team collects information about tornadoes, using a number of products provided by Lenovo. ThinkPad W700 laptops are being used to house radar and mapping applications for analyzing and displaying data and video graphically.

In addition to the DOW7 and DOW6, the CSWR team is using vehicles with Probe and Disdrometer equipment to gather information about the storms. The PnD vehicles drop dozens of weather pods in the path of the storm to collect data, such as wind speed and temperature, about the tornadoes. Remember those little balls from the movie Twister that get swept up by the storm? Exactly.

For this part of the data collection operation, Lenovo is providing researchers with ThinkPad T400s running software that tests and monitors weather stations in the field. Additionally, ThinkPad W500 laptops are attached to the inside of the PnD vehicles running navigation, tracking and mapping software. And these days, what would a notebook rollout be without a netbook? Lenovo has provided the CSWR team with IdeaPad S10 netbooks.

The information the CSWR field team gathers needs to be viewed and analyzed. These Lenovo L2440x wide and L220x high resolution monitors are housed in the DOW6 and provide researchers the monitor real estate they need to review data. Because the monitors are housed in a mobile unit, they need to be tough enough to withstand travel and the elements. Additionally, the monitors are being used to brief other scientists on the findings the field team collects.