The Mid-South is positioned in one of the most active severe weather locations in the country and is also has one of the highest frequencies of tornado fatalities. The National Weather Service in Memphis, Tennessee, has conducted research studies to investigate the near storm environment and its effects on tornado development. While surface observations and radar data provide good spatial and temporal resolution, the resolution among upper air observations is poor. Options for improving upper air data have been investigated and include constructing a mesonet of on-demand upper air observations, using numerical model analysis-created soundings, and using satellite soundings. Each of these techniques poses a challenge with regard to accurately assessing the atmosphere.
The following research objectives and procedures have been developed to improve upper air atmospheric sampling on severe weather days: