The Texas Tech Hurricane Research Team was established in 1998 with the development of the Wind Engineering Mobile Instrument Tower Experiment or WEMITE and is made up of faculty and students from the Atmospheric Science Group and the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center. The goal of Texas Tech atmospheric scientists and wind engineers was to develop a mobile ruggedized meteorological observing station that could be deployed in the path of a landfalling tropical cyclone. Often during hurricane landfalls conventional observing stations fail well before the arrival of peak winds, resulting in a lack of wind data in the region most effected by the storm (80% failure rate in sustained winds over 50 mph). The need existed for a self-sustained ruggedized observing station that could be transported to the landfall region. Texas Tech atmospheric scientists and wind engineers set out to meet this need.
The goal became a reality in 1998 with funding from NIST, NSF, and INEEL. WEMITE #1 became operational in time for the 1998 Atlantic Hurricane Season. WEMITE #2 soon followed in 1999. The two towers made 7 total deployments during the 1998 and 1999 Atlantic hurricane seasons. The two towers are trailer mounted, self-sustaining, and are anchored with modified mobile home anchors and up to six guy wires. They collect wind speed and direction data at multiple levels, including 10 m (33 ft) as well as temperature, barometric pressure, and relative humidity. For specific information on each platform please click on the link provided.
Three portable mesonet towers (PMT) were added to the fleet in 2002. The PMT are 10 m single aluminum mast platforms which collect wind data at 10 m (33 ft) as well as the standard meteorological data. They are not ruggedized but are anchored via six guy wires and modified mobile home anchors. They have since been retired in favor of the rapid deployment Stick-Net platforms. TTUHRT has made over 120 individual platform deployments in 25 different landfalling tropical cyclones.
Also in 2002, Texas Tech entered a partnership with the University of Oklahoma, Texas A & M University, and the National Severe Storms Laboratory to develop two mobile C-Band Doppler Radars. The Shared Mobile Atmospheric Research and Teaching Radars (SMART-R) were first deployed by Texas Tech during Hurricane Lili in 2002. They are the only two mobile C-Band Doppler Radars in the world. With the addition of the mobile radars the project officially became Texas Tech University's Hurricanes at Landfall Project. Texas Tech deployed all five towers and both mobile radars for Hurricanes Isabel (2003) and Frances (2004).
In 2006, the rapid deployment Stick-Net platforms became operational. The 2.25 m platforms allow for a greater spatial resolution of complete wind datasets from the landfall region. TTUHRT currently has 2 trailers with a total of 24 operational StickNet probes. The final goal of the StickNet initiative is to deploy as many as forty 2 m stations to the landfall region thus substantially reducing the uncertainty in hurricane winds at landfall. The StickNet probes were designed and built entirely by students from Texas Tech's Wind Science and Engineering Program and the Atmospheric Science Group . The StickNet probes played a key role during the VORTEX-2 research project. StickNets made their first venture into the tropical cyclone environment during Hurricane Dolly (2008).
The Wind Science and Engineering research center received a grant from the Texas Tech Office of the Vice President for Research to develop two mobile Ka-Band radar systems. The addition of the mobile radars and continued growth of the StickNet initiative will bring Texas Tech's observational capability to the forefront of hurricane and meteorological field research. TTUKA-1 was first deployed into the tropical cyclone environment during Tropical Storm Ida (2009). Both TTUKA-1 and TTUKA-2 participated in the 2010 field phase of the VORTEX 2 tornado research project.