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Scientists focus on Wiregrass in quest for tornado knowledge

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DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — Tornado researchers want to know more about how tornadoes form from squall lines in the Wiregrass region of Alabama and Georgia.

That part of the South is of interest to Chris Weiss, a professor of atmospheric science at Texas Tech University, The Dothan Eagle reported. He's one of the leaders of the team involved in the Verification of the Origin of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX ) Southeast.

Researchers want to record unique measurements that give meteorologists a better idea of which storms produce tornadoes and which do not, Weiss said. That would help forecasters to reduce the number of false alarms and improve the warning times for tornadoes that do form.

Researchers hope to set up devices that rest on tripods on local landowners' property in a half-dozen counties. The idea is to set up the devices a couple of days before a potential storm system moves over the Wiregrass.

The "StickNet" devices on tripods stand at a total height of about 7 feet (2.1 meters). They measure wind speeds, barometric pressure, relative humidity and wind direction, the Dothan newspaper reported.

The team of researchers has selected four Alabama counties — Dale, Henry, Houston, and Geneva — for the research. Clay and Early counties in southwest Georgia are also part of the study set to launch next year.

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