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Potential Vorticity Diagnosis of the Severe Convective Regime. Part IV: Comparison with Modeling Simulations of the Moore Tornado Outbreak

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
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Abstract

A potential vorticity (PV) diagnostic framework is used to explore the sensitivity of the 3 May 1999 Oklahoma City tornado outbreak to the strength of a particular PV anomaly proximate to the geographical region experiencing the tornado outbreak. The results derived from the balanced PV diagnosis agree broadly with those obtained previously in a numerical simulation of the same event, while offering additional insight into the nature of the sensitivity. Similar to the findings of other cases, the balanced diagnosis demonstrates that intensifying (removing) the PV anomaly of interest increases (decreases) the balanced CAPE over the southwestern portion of the outbreak region, reduces (increases) the storm-relative helicity, and increases (reduces) ascent. The latter finding, coupled with the results of the modeling study, demonstrates that intensifying a PV anomaly proximate to an outbreak environment can increase the likelihood that more widespread and possibly less tornadic convection will ensue. The overall results of the balanced diagnosis complement those of other case studies, leading to the formulation of a conceptual model that broadly anticipates how the convective regime will respond to changes in intensity of upper-tropospheric weather features.

* Current affiliation: PPM Energy, Inc., Houston, Texas

Corresponding author address: David A. Gold, P.O. Box 420898, Houston, TX 77242. Email: dr_david_gold@earthlink.net

Abstract

A potential vorticity (PV) diagnostic framework is used to explore the sensitivity of the 3 May 1999 Oklahoma City tornado outbreak to the strength of a particular PV anomaly proximate to the geographical region experiencing the tornado outbreak. The results derived from the balanced PV diagnosis agree broadly with those obtained previously in a numerical simulation of the same event, while offering additional insight into the nature of the sensitivity. Similar to the findings of other cases, the balanced diagnosis demonstrates that intensifying (removing) the PV anomaly of interest increases (decreases) the balanced CAPE over the southwestern portion of the outbreak region, reduces (increases) the storm-relative helicity, and increases (reduces) ascent. The latter finding, coupled with the results of the modeling study, demonstrates that intensifying a PV anomaly proximate to an outbreak environment can increase the likelihood that more widespread and possibly less tornadic convection will ensue. The overall results of the balanced diagnosis complement those of other case studies, leading to the formulation of a conceptual model that broadly anticipates how the convective regime will respond to changes in intensity of upper-tropospheric weather features.

* Current affiliation: PPM Energy, Inc., Houston, Texas

Corresponding author address: David A. Gold, P.O. Box 420898, Houston, TX 77242. Email: dr_david_gold@earthlink.net

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