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Ground-Based Velocity Track Display (GBVTD) Analysis of W-Band Doppler Radar Data in a Tornado near Stockton, Kansas, on 15 May 1999

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  • 1 School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 3 ProSensing, Inc., Amherst, Massachusetts
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Abstract

On 15 May 1999, a storm intercept team from the University of Oklahoma collected high-resolution, W-band Doppler radar data in a tornado near Stockton, Kansas. Thirty-five sector scans were obtained over a period of approximately 10 min, capturing the tornado life cycle from just after tornadogenesis to the decay stage. A low-reflectivity “eye”—whose diameter fluctuated during the period of observation—was present in the reflectivity scans. A ground-based velocity track display (GBVTD) analysis of the W-band Doppler radar data of the Stockton tornado was conducted; results and interpretations are presented and discussed. It was found from the analysis that the axisymmetric component of the azimuthal wind profile of the tornado was suggestive of a Burgers–Rott vortex during the most intense phase of the life cycle of the tornado. The temporal evolution of the axisymmetric components of azimuthal and radial wind, as well as the wavenumber-1, -2, and -3 angular harmonics of the azimuthal wind, are also presented. A quasi-stationary wavenumber-2 feature of the azimuthal wind was analyzed from 25 of the 35 scans. It is shown, via simulated radar data collection in an idealized Burgers–Rott vortex, that this wavenumber-2 feature may be caused by the translational distortion of the vortex during the radar scans. From the GBVTD analysis, it can be seen that the maximum azimuthally averaged azimuthal wind speed increased while the radius of maximum wind (RMW) decreased slightly during the intensification phase of the Stockton tornado. In addition, the maximum azimuthally averaged azimuthal wind speed, the RMW, and the circulation about the vortex center all decreased simultaneously as the tornado decayed.

Corresponding author address: Robin Tanamachi, School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, 120 David L. Boren Blvd., Norman, OK 73072. Email: rtanamachi@ou.edu

Abstract

On 15 May 1999, a storm intercept team from the University of Oklahoma collected high-resolution, W-band Doppler radar data in a tornado near Stockton, Kansas. Thirty-five sector scans were obtained over a period of approximately 10 min, capturing the tornado life cycle from just after tornadogenesis to the decay stage. A low-reflectivity “eye”—whose diameter fluctuated during the period of observation—was present in the reflectivity scans. A ground-based velocity track display (GBVTD) analysis of the W-band Doppler radar data of the Stockton tornado was conducted; results and interpretations are presented and discussed. It was found from the analysis that the axisymmetric component of the azimuthal wind profile of the tornado was suggestive of a Burgers–Rott vortex during the most intense phase of the life cycle of the tornado. The temporal evolution of the axisymmetric components of azimuthal and radial wind, as well as the wavenumber-1, -2, and -3 angular harmonics of the azimuthal wind, are also presented. A quasi-stationary wavenumber-2 feature of the azimuthal wind was analyzed from 25 of the 35 scans. It is shown, via simulated radar data collection in an idealized Burgers–Rott vortex, that this wavenumber-2 feature may be caused by the translational distortion of the vortex during the radar scans. From the GBVTD analysis, it can be seen that the maximum azimuthally averaged azimuthal wind speed increased while the radius of maximum wind (RMW) decreased slightly during the intensification phase of the Stockton tornado. In addition, the maximum azimuthally averaged azimuthal wind speed, the RMW, and the circulation about the vortex center all decreased simultaneously as the tornado decayed.

Corresponding author address: Robin Tanamachi, School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, 120 David L. Boren Blvd., Norman, OK 73072. Email: rtanamachi@ou.edu

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