This vehicle may look like something from alien worlds; but if you see it, don't shoot! It's occupied by earthlings and engaging in valuable scientific research.
In the few years that DOWs have been around, they have earned a place in chase lore by their unique appearance and scientific contributions. Doppler on Wheels, or DOW, is an x-band Doppler radar anchored to the bed of a flatbed truck. It is driven by OU chase crews to the nearest possible safe location to tornadoes, where it takes detailed vertical (RHI) and horizontal (PPI) readings. DOW made some fascinating discoveries about tornado structure in 1994 and 1995 while participating in the V.O.R.T.EX. project; see this page for examples. DOW has provided close-up, detailed radar slices of tornadoes, documenting structural details of tornadic vortices such as eyes and inflow jets. It recorded the highest near-surface wind speeds on record, 318 mph in the Bridge Creek OK tornado of 3 May 1999. DOW has also participated in field experiments in the Great Plains, Illinois, and Florida, and went to North Carolina to sample Hurricane Fran in 1996.
Here are the DOW's tech specs. DOW 1 has been recycled into DOW 3, now equipped with a retractable 10-meter pole for use in hurricane intercepts. For more info on the DOWs, and what they've been involved with, go to the Doppler on Wheels Home Page.
Josh Wurman posing in front of DOW-1 (left, teal) and DOW-2 (right, red)