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Plunged into an extreme drought and reflecting on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Michael, Wiregrass residents know plenty about the impact of natural disasters.

The effect of another common threat – tornadoes – could be lessened if a Texas Tech research project produces the data officials need to produce better forecasts.

Dr. Chris Weiss, a professor of atmospheric science at Texas Tech, is a leader on the Verification of the Origin of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment-Southeast (VORTEX-SE) team. Weiss’ group has identified the Wiregrass as an area where they want to study tornadoes that form from squall lines, a common threat during several months locally.

Weiss said the project hopes to record unique measurements that give meteorologists a better idea of which storms produce tornadoes and which do not. With that knowledge, forecasters could reduce the number of false alarms and improve the warning times for tornadoes that form.

In order to conduct this research, Weiss’ team will set up “StickNet” devices, which are meteorological tools placed on a tripod. All told, the device stands about seven feet tall.

The researchers want to erect these devices on local landowners’ property a couple of days ahead of a potential storm system. Once the system passes, researchers will collect the devices.

Weiss said landowners would not be compensated for volunteering to help the project – though they plan to share the real-time data with the landowners.

Landowners will only have to give Weiss’ team permission to access their properties during the storm. Typically the land would need about 150 to 200 yards of clearance from tree cover, but exceptions could be made if the cover is not thick.

For more information on the project, visit https://www.nssl.noaa.gov/projects/vortexse/ . If you are interested in aiding the effort, which will begin in Fall 2020 if funded, email Weiss at Chris.Weiss@ttu.edu .

Columbus Day: Monday is Columbus Day, which means City of Dothan and Houston County offices will be closed.

The Houston County Commission normally meets on Mondays, but the holiday will push the next meeting to Tuesday at 10 a.m. The commission meets on the third floor of the Houston County Administration Building.

While Houston County Sanitation will work its normal routes Monday, the City of Dothan will postpone its garbage service for Monday customers to Wednesday. Crews will not pick up roadside trash on Monday, either, and no makeup date is scheduled for that service.

Meeting schedule: In addition to the Houston County Commission, several area boards will meet this week.

Meeting at the Dothan Civic Center this week are the Dothan City Commission (10 a.m. Tuesday), Dothan Planning Commission (9 a.m. Wednesday), Dothan Downtown Redevelopment Authority (3 p.m. Wednesday) and the Community Development Advisory Board (4 p.m. Thursday in the board room).

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