August 13, 2012
Mission Preparation and Logistics
Probably the biggest question on everyone's mind at the moment is: When's the first mission going to start? It's part of Red Bull Storm Chase that neither the crew nor the competitors currently have a definite answer to this. Thus, the day of the competition is referred to as "day X" amongst crew and competitors.
Planning for the start of a mission is ongoing every day and is being constantly adapted to changing forecasts. But what is happening behind the scenes? Which factors are being taken into account?
Here is a closer look at the proceedings inside the Red Bull Storm Chase headquarter which lead to the different warning levels and eventually to a "Go" for each of the three missions. The most important goal for these proceedings is to ensure that all missions will be highly successful in regard to sick conditions and a great competition on location.
T-168 hours - Identification of a Suitable Storm System
To get a mission going, the crew generally needs to identify a suitable storm system 5-7 days in advance of day X. As soon as things are looking good on the forecast, first preparatory steps are set in motion to organize the logistics for competitors, crew and equipment. Consequently, the warning level will be set to "Elevated" for the destination in focus.
Warning level was set to "Elevated" for Tasmania during week 1 of the waiting period.
At this stage it's of the utmost importance to confirm that the journey to the destination is manageable for everyone involved and the forecast continues to look positive. If this proves to be the case and the storm system is confirmed to be steadily moving towards the selected destination by the meteorological advisors, the "Elevated" warning level will be kept.
There has already been quite some excitement around this warning level during week 1 of the waiting period, when the forecasts looked very good for Tasmania:
Global wind forecast during week 1 of the waiting period, indicating suitable conditions in Tasmania.
Unfortunately the alert had to be called off again, as the situation developed too quickly. It turned out that the conditions in Tasmania were just perfect, but there would have been no chance for competitors and crew to get down there in time.
Tasmania going off, with no chance for competitors & crew to be around for it.
T-96 hours - Warning Issued to Competitors and Crew
Next, 4 days in advance of day X, all the vital aspects for a successful mission are double checked once again. The crew specifically looks at these factors:
Feasibility of logistics for everyone involved
Will everyone involved and all the equipment needed be able to make it to the destination in time?
Movement of the identified storm system
Is the identified storm system steadily continuing to move towards the destination?
Forecasted wind speed and direction
Is the forecasted wind speed suitable - at least force 10 is required - and the wind direction good?
Consistency of the forecast
Has the forecast been stable up till now and is the forecast probability looking good?
Now it's time for a preliminary decision about the start of the mission: The more positive all of these factors look, the higher the probability that the full preparation for the mission will be set in motion. If this is the case, the warning level will be set to "Severe" for the time being.
T-60 / T-48 hours - Go and Last Option to Cancel
Now, less than 3 days in advance of day X, a final check will be conducted. There's still a possibility that the upcoming mission might be canceled at the last minute. This would usually be the case if the storm system has faded or moved very different from the forecasted trajectory.
As there are only three missions, the crew will make sure to only keep the status on "Go" if all factors influencing the success of a mission are still positive. If this is the case, it is the point of no return, and everyone involved will be sent off on their journey...