NORMAN, OK -- The first phase of an $11.9 million experiment to study tornadoes ended with researchers only finding one twister during a 35-day period.
The initial phase of the Verification of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment 2 -- also called Vortex2 -- started May 10 and ran through June 13. A second phase will run from May 1 through June 15 next year.
About 120 people from 18 universities and government agencies traveled more than 11,000 miles during Vortex2's first phase, but found only a strong EF-3 tornado in far southeastern Wyoming that lasted about 30 minutes.
4/21/2009 Related Story: VORTEX 2: Inside A Tornado
Don Burgess, a research scientist at the University of Oklahoma, says the time period had the least number of tornadoes since the early 1990s. He says Vortex2 was designed to be a two-year experiment in case something like that happened.
Burgess says that despite the lack of tornadoes, the first year of the Vortex2 project still proved beneficial, in part because researchers found and recorded information from three tornadic storms that did not produce any twisters.