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The Bowdle, South Dakota, Cyclic Tornadic Supercell of 22 May 2010: Surface Analysis of Rear-Flank Downdraft Evolution and Multiple Internal Surges

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  • 1 WindLogics Inc., Grand Rapids, Minnesota
  • | 2 Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
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Abstract

Mobile mesonet sampling in the hook echo/rear-flank downdraft (RFD) region of a tornadic supercell near Bowdle, South Dakota, provided the opportunity to examine RFD thermodynamic and kinematic attributes and evolution. Focused analysis of the fifth low-level mesocyclone cycle that produced two significant tornadoes including a violent tornado, revealed four RFD internal surge (RFDIS) events. RFDISs appeared to influence tornado development, intensity, and demise by altering the thermodynamic and kinematic character of the RFD region bounding the pretornadic and tornadic circulations. Significant tornadoes developed and matured when the RFD, modulated by internal surges, was kinematically strong, only weakly negatively buoyant, and very potentially buoyant. In contrast, the demise of the Bowdle tornado was concurrent with a much cooler RFDIS that replaced more buoyant and far more potentially buoyant RFD air near the tornado. This surge also likely contributed to a displacement of the tornado from the storm updraft. Development of the first tornado and rapid intensification of the Bowdle tornado occurred when an RFDIS boundary convergence zone interacted with the pretornadic and tornadic circulations, respectively. In the latter case, a strong vertical vortex sheet along an RFDIS boundary appeared to be a near-surface cyclonic vorticity source for the tornado. A downdraft closely bounding the right flank of the developing first tornado and intensifying Bowdle tornado provided some of the inflow to these circulations. For the Bowdle tornado, parcels were also streaming toward the tornado from its immediate east and northeast. A cyclonic–anticyclonic vortex couplet was observed during a portion of each significant tornado cycle.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Bruce D. Lee, WindLogics Inc., 201 NW 4th St., Grand Rapids, MN 55744. E-mail: blee@windlogics.com

Abstract

Mobile mesonet sampling in the hook echo/rear-flank downdraft (RFD) region of a tornadic supercell near Bowdle, South Dakota, provided the opportunity to examine RFD thermodynamic and kinematic attributes and evolution. Focused analysis of the fifth low-level mesocyclone cycle that produced two significant tornadoes including a violent tornado, revealed four RFD internal surge (RFDIS) events. RFDISs appeared to influence tornado development, intensity, and demise by altering the thermodynamic and kinematic character of the RFD region bounding the pretornadic and tornadic circulations. Significant tornadoes developed and matured when the RFD, modulated by internal surges, was kinematically strong, only weakly negatively buoyant, and very potentially buoyant. In contrast, the demise of the Bowdle tornado was concurrent with a much cooler RFDIS that replaced more buoyant and far more potentially buoyant RFD air near the tornado. This surge also likely contributed to a displacement of the tornado from the storm updraft. Development of the first tornado and rapid intensification of the Bowdle tornado occurred when an RFDIS boundary convergence zone interacted with the pretornadic and tornadic circulations, respectively. In the latter case, a strong vertical vortex sheet along an RFDIS boundary appeared to be a near-surface cyclonic vorticity source for the tornado. A downdraft closely bounding the right flank of the developing first tornado and intensifying Bowdle tornado provided some of the inflow to these circulations. For the Bowdle tornado, parcels were also streaming toward the tornado from its immediate east and northeast. A cyclonic–anticyclonic vortex couplet was observed during a portion of each significant tornado cycle.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Bruce D. Lee, WindLogics Inc., 201 NW 4th St., Grand Rapids, MN 55744. E-mail: blee@windlogics.com
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