TORNADOLERT is the result of 10 years of research and development.
Tornadolert utilizes patented technology to detect wind noise radiated by powerful winds around a tornado's funnel bottom. Dr. William L. Rubin, Tornadolert's inventor, was on the engineering team that developed the NEXRAD Doppler Radar. Tornadolert's detection technology was an outgrowth of Dr. Rubin's research after NEXRAD's engineering design was completed.
From 1991 to 1998 Dr. Rubin consulted for the Federal Aviation Administration at JFK Airport seeking new methods for detecting and tracking aircraft wake vortices. Aircraft wake vortices are mini- tornados that spin off the wing tips of all aircraft in flight, closing their circular rotation path about 20 seconds after an aircraft has moved away. Wake vortices from a leading aircraft are hazardous to following aircraft and can cause them to spin out of control.
While working near the landing approach to JFK runway 35L, Dr. Rubin heard a loud whooshing sound. The timing of the sound was such that it could only have come from a wake vortex left behind a Boeing B757 aircraft that had just landed. After extensive research, Dr. Rubin found that wake vortices of all aircraft landing at JFK generate infrasound wind noise, with the exception of the B757. Infrasound lies below the human hearing range.
This discovery led to additional research on top of Mount Washington (New Hampshire) as well as at other high wind turbulence locations. The research revealed that free-flowing atmospheric winds, whether linear or circular, vertical or horizontal, all generate wind noise that peaks in a relatively small infrasound frequency band that is independent of wind speed. Ten more years of research and development and tornado field‐testing around Wichita (Kansas) led to Tornadolert's creation.