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The Unusual Early Morning Tornado in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico, on 25 May 2015

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  • 1 Oceanography Department, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, and Centro de Ciencias de la Atmósfera, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad de México, Mexico
  • | 2 Unidad La Paz, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
  • | 3 Centro de Ciencias de la Atmósfera, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad de México, Mexico
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Abstract

This study analyzes the synoptic- and mesoscale conditions present during initiation and intensification of the supercell thunderstorm that produced a tornado in Ciudad Acuña, a community located in the state of Coahuila, Mexico, 10 km southwest of the U.S. border. Early morning convective activity, first detected by radar at 0628 UTC 25 May 2015, developed into an intense and well-defined supercell thunderstorm that produced a tornado between approximately 1045 and 1130 UTC. Hourly analyses from the Rapid Refresh model indicated an upslope component to surface flow in the region of convection initiation over the Serranías del Burro (SdB). Along the storm’s trajectory, dewpoint temperatures increased from 15° to 22°C, convective available potential energy increased from 1500 to near 4000 J kg−1, and convective inhibition changed from −150 J kg−1 at the time of convection initiation to near zero in Ciudad Acuña. Simulations from the Weather Research and Forecasting Model confirmed the sensitivity of both convection initiation and storm intensification to the topography of the SdB. In the control simulation and two simulations in which topography was reduced in elevation, a cluster of storms formed and intensified over the central mountains. However, when topography was further reduced and the SdB region became a large flat plain, little convective activity was seen, forming only along the dryline without intensifying or propagating to the east as was observed.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Dr. Graciela B. Raga, raga.graciela@gmail.com

Abstract

This study analyzes the synoptic- and mesoscale conditions present during initiation and intensification of the supercell thunderstorm that produced a tornado in Ciudad Acuña, a community located in the state of Coahuila, Mexico, 10 km southwest of the U.S. border. Early morning convective activity, first detected by radar at 0628 UTC 25 May 2015, developed into an intense and well-defined supercell thunderstorm that produced a tornado between approximately 1045 and 1130 UTC. Hourly analyses from the Rapid Refresh model indicated an upslope component to surface flow in the region of convection initiation over the Serranías del Burro (SdB). Along the storm’s trajectory, dewpoint temperatures increased from 15° to 22°C, convective available potential energy increased from 1500 to near 4000 J kg−1, and convective inhibition changed from −150 J kg−1 at the time of convection initiation to near zero in Ciudad Acuña. Simulations from the Weather Research and Forecasting Model confirmed the sensitivity of both convection initiation and storm intensification to the topography of the SdB. In the control simulation and two simulations in which topography was reduced in elevation, a cluster of storms formed and intensified over the central mountains. However, when topography was further reduced and the SdB region became a large flat plain, little convective activity was seen, forming only along the dryline without intensifying or propagating to the east as was observed.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Dr. Graciela B. Raga, raga.graciela@gmail.com
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