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Bow Echo Mesovortices. Part II: Their Genesis

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  • 1 Lyndon State College, Lyndonville, Vermont
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Abstract

This two-part study examines the damaging potential and genesis of low-level, meso-γ-scale mesovortices formed within bow echoes. This was accomplished by analyzing quasi-idealized simulations of the 10 June 2003 Saint Louis bow echo event observed during the Bow Echo and Mesoscale Convective Vortex Experiment (BAMEX). In Part II of this study, mesovortex genesis was investigated for vortices formed at different stages of convective system evolution. During the early “cellular” stage, cyclonic mesovortices were observed. The cyclonic mesovortices formed from the tilting of baroclinic horizontal vorticity acquired by downdraft parcels entering the mesovortex. As the convective system evolved into a bow echo, cyclonic–anticyclonic mesovortex pairs were also observed. The vortex couplet was produced by a local updraft maximum that tilted baroclinically generated vortex lines upward into arches. The local updraft maximum was created by a convective-scale downdraft that produced an outward bulge in the gust front position. Cyclonic-only mesovortices were predominantly observed as the convective system evolved into the mature bow echo stage. Similar to the early cellular stage, these mesovortices formed from the tilting of baroclinic horizontal vorticity acquired by downdraft parcels entering the mesovortex. The downdraft parcels descended within the rear-inflow jet. The generality of the mesovortex genesis mechanisms was assessed by examining the structure of observed mesovortices in Doppler radar data. The mesovortex genesis mechanisms were also compared to others reported in the literature and the genesis of low-level mesocyclones in supercell thunderstorms.

Corresponding author address: Nolan T. Atkins, Department of Meteorology, Lyndon State College, 1001 College Rd., Lyndonville, VT 05851. Email: nolan.atkins@lyndonstate.edu

Abstract

This two-part study examines the damaging potential and genesis of low-level, meso-γ-scale mesovortices formed within bow echoes. This was accomplished by analyzing quasi-idealized simulations of the 10 June 2003 Saint Louis bow echo event observed during the Bow Echo and Mesoscale Convective Vortex Experiment (BAMEX). In Part II of this study, mesovortex genesis was investigated for vortices formed at different stages of convective system evolution. During the early “cellular” stage, cyclonic mesovortices were observed. The cyclonic mesovortices formed from the tilting of baroclinic horizontal vorticity acquired by downdraft parcels entering the mesovortex. As the convective system evolved into a bow echo, cyclonic–anticyclonic mesovortex pairs were also observed. The vortex couplet was produced by a local updraft maximum that tilted baroclinically generated vortex lines upward into arches. The local updraft maximum was created by a convective-scale downdraft that produced an outward bulge in the gust front position. Cyclonic-only mesovortices were predominantly observed as the convective system evolved into the mature bow echo stage. Similar to the early cellular stage, these mesovortices formed from the tilting of baroclinic horizontal vorticity acquired by downdraft parcels entering the mesovortex. The downdraft parcels descended within the rear-inflow jet. The generality of the mesovortex genesis mechanisms was assessed by examining the structure of observed mesovortices in Doppler radar data. The mesovortex genesis mechanisms were also compared to others reported in the literature and the genesis of low-level mesocyclones in supercell thunderstorms.

Corresponding author address: Nolan T. Atkins, Department of Meteorology, Lyndon State College, 1001 College Rd., Lyndonville, VT 05851. Email: nolan.atkins@lyndonstate.edu

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