The downloads contain a version of a virtual reality tornadic thunderstorm activity for either Linux-based or Windows-based PCs. The activity is a visually-realistic three-dimensional view of a supercell thunderstorm containing a tornado during the mature, steady-state phase of its life cycle. Audio effects are also present, along with many visual features common to these storms (wall cloud, anvil cloud, mammatus, shelf cloud, rear-flank downdraft clear slot and blowing dust, hail, asymmetric rain core). The activity is meant to be a slice of the real world and thus can be used in every educational setting from K-12 through graduate school. Of most benefit for use in advanced education settings, data probing capabilities exist in the activity, so that students can take data measurements (temperature, relative humidity, wind, pressure, and vertical motion) throughout the three-dimensional world in and near the storm. Younger students can simply navigate all around the thunderstorm to see the typical features present in these dangerous systems. Key concepts that can be explored include storm-scale dynamics (updrafts, downdrafts, wind shear), microphysical effects (evaporatively-driven cold pool), issues of perspective and visibility, and data-collection strategy. Some screen captures from different areas within the storm (mammatus clouds in the anvil region, hook echo rain curtains and tornado, shelf cloud, wall cloud, tornado, RFD clear slot) are shown below:
When the activity is launched (please follow the README instructions for the windows version), resize and move the windows so that the visual depiction of the storm is on the left, and the data GUI is on the right. Navigation can be done either using the mouse within the virtual “world” on the left, or by clicking in the data GUI window to move the arrow. The arrow shows which way the user is facing. Data can be collected using the GUI and stored in the table at the lower right of the above screen captures.
IMPORTANT: Technical requirements (Please read before installing Virtual Storm)
Windows version of the Virtual Storm:
TornadoInstaller.exe (32.5 MB)
Important differences in the Windows Version: README!):
Linux desktop version of the Virtual Storm: VirtualStorm.tar.bz2 (46.2 MB)
[Note: The original version of the Virtual Storm application runs significantly better under Linux than under Windows due to some visual bugs and navigation differences.]