Radar Reflectivities and Satellite Imagery of Severe Storms 20 May 1977

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  • 1 Goddard Laboratory for Atmospheric Sciences, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771
  • | 2 General Electric/MATSCO, Beltsville, MD 20705
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Abstract

Storms on 20 May 1977 generated a vast cirrus deck. Disturbed areas at storm top had equivalent black-body temperatures (TBB) much lower than the tropopause temperature, indicative of overshooting tops.

The area of TBB ≤ −71°C represents the area of convective activity penetrating ∼2 km above the tropopause. This area was relatively large after cloud tops and radar reflectivities reached their maximum heights. It became much smaller during tornadoes when reflectivities were decreasing. TBB was at a minimum at the time of mesocyclone formation.

The Del City storm had two periods of growth, as indicated both by reflectivities and the TBB areas. The mesocyclone was first detected during the second less intense period of growth; the tornado occurred during decreasing reflectivities.

The maintenance of large areas of relatively low TBB after tornado dissipation is ascribed to continued convection on the flanks of the storm and to residual updrafts in a thick anvil cloud.

Abstract

Storms on 20 May 1977 generated a vast cirrus deck. Disturbed areas at storm top had equivalent black-body temperatures (TBB) much lower than the tropopause temperature, indicative of overshooting tops.

The area of TBB ≤ −71°C represents the area of convective activity penetrating ∼2 km above the tropopause. This area was relatively large after cloud tops and radar reflectivities reached their maximum heights. It became much smaller during tornadoes when reflectivities were decreasing. TBB was at a minimum at the time of mesocyclone formation.

The Del City storm had two periods of growth, as indicated both by reflectivities and the TBB areas. The mesocyclone was first detected during the second less intense period of growth; the tornado occurred during decreasing reflectivities.

The maintenance of large areas of relatively low TBB after tornado dissipation is ascribed to continued convection on the flanks of the storm and to residual updrafts in a thick anvil cloud.

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