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Norman, OK, United States

Snyder J.C.,National Severe Storms Laboratory RRDD | Bluestein H.B.,University of Oklahoma
Weather and Forecasting | Year: 2014

The increasing number of mobile Doppler radars used in field campaigns across the central United States has led to an increasing number of high-resolution radar datasets of strong tornadoes. There are more than a few instances in which the radar-measured radial velocities substantially exceed the estimated wind speeds associated with the enhanced Fujita (EF) scale rating assigned to a particular tornado. It is imperative, however, to understand what the radar data represent if one wants to compare radar observations to damage-based EF-scale estimates. A violent tornado observed by the rapid-scan, X-band, polarimetric mobile radar (RaXPol) on 31 May 2013 contained radar-relative radial velocities exceeding 135ms-1 in rural areas essentially devoid of structures from which damage ratings can be made. This case, along with others, serves as an excellent example of some of the complications that arise when comparing radar-estimated velocities with the criteria established in the EF scale. In addition, it is shown that data from polarimetric radars should reduce the variance of radar-relative radial velocity estimates within the debris field compared to data from single-polarization radars. Polarimetric radars can also be used to retrieve differential velocity, large magnitudes of which are spatially associated with large spectrum widths inside the polarimetric tornado debris signature in several datasets of intense tornadoes sampled by RaXPol. © 2014 American Meteorological Society.


Bluestein H.B.,University of Oklahoma | Snyder J.C.,National Severe Storms Laboratory RRDD | Houser J.B.,Ohio University
Weather and Forecasting | Year: 2015

On 31 May 2013 a broad, intense, cyclonic tornado and a narrower, weaker companion anticyclonic tornado formed in a supercell in central Oklahoma. This paper discusses the synoptic- and mesoscale environment in which the parent storm formed, based on data from the operational network of surface stations, rawinsondes, and WSR-88D radars, and from the Oklahoma Mesonet, a Doppler radar wind profiler, Rapid Refresh (RAP) analyses, and photographs. It also documents the overall behavior of the tornadoes and their relationships to features in their parent supercell based on data from a nearby, rapid-scan, polarimetric, mobile Doppler radar. The supercell formed near the intersection of a cold front and a dryline in an environment of moderately strong vertical shear and high CAPE, at the southern end of a line of multicell convective storms. The tornado damage path was as wide as 4.2 km according to the NWS damage assessment and ground-relative Doppler velocities of at least 135 m s-1 were found at the theoretical beam height of <20 m AGL. The tornado debris signature in the copolar cross-correlation coefficient ρhv was as wide as ~4-5 km. After the strong tornado formed, at least one additional cyclonic tornado formed and rotated cyclonically around the main tornado; it was then absorbed by it and the main tornado broadened. Smaller subvortices, which rotated cyclonically around a common axis of rotation, were subsequently observed. The tornado then weakened but remained broad, while the anticyclonic tornado formed to the southeast along the rear-flank gust front. © 2015 American Meteorological Society.

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