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Analysis of the 16 May 2015 Tipton, Oklahoma, EF-3 Tornado at High Spatiotemporal Resolution Using the Atmospheric Imaging Radar

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  • 1 Advanced Radar Research Center, and School of Meteorology, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 2 Advanced Radar Research Center, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 3 Advanced Radar Research Center, and School of Meteorology, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 4 Advanced Radar Research Center, and School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Norman, Oklahoma
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Abstract

In this study, data collected by the Atmospheric Imaging Radar (AIR) are analyzed in conjunction with WSR-88D data (KFDR) for a tornado near Tipton, Oklahoma, on 16 May 2015. The analysis presented herein utilizes PPIs from both radars, polarimetric data from KFDR, time–height plots from the AIR, and a ground-based velocity track display (GBVTD) analysis. This study is novel in that it uses high-resolution mobile radar data (update time of 6–7 s) in tandem with polarimetric data from KFDR in order to identify possible areas of debris, including a debris ring contained within the outer vortex circulation. Leveraging the high spatiotemporal resolution of the AIR with the polarimetric capability of KFDR leads to analysis of reflectivity distributions, debris lofting, kinematic changes, and oscillations in tornado intensity during a portion of the mature stage of the tornado, with a particular focus on the relationship between changes in the reflectivity field and dynamical changes around the tornado. Debris is lofted in a high-reflectivity concentric ring of increasing radius and height around the tornado over several minutes, within the outer weak-echo hole (WEH). Simultaneously, debris lofting and asymmetric reflectivity distribution around the WEH coincide with changes in vortex tilt on multiple occasions. In one instance, hydrometeor fallout appears to precede a possible descending reflectivity core. Using the GBVTD results, near-surface convergence intensifies at the same time and location as when the debris ring is lofted. Additionally, strengthening of the tornado via multiple modes of vertical evolution (i.e., bottom-up intensification over time vs simultaneous intensification throughout the lowest few hundred meters) is observed.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: https://doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-17-0256.s1.

© 2018 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: Andrew Mahre, andrew.mahre@ou.edu

Abstract

In this study, data collected by the Atmospheric Imaging Radar (AIR) are analyzed in conjunction with WSR-88D data (KFDR) for a tornado near Tipton, Oklahoma, on 16 May 2015. The analysis presented herein utilizes PPIs from both radars, polarimetric data from KFDR, time–height plots from the AIR, and a ground-based velocity track display (GBVTD) analysis. This study is novel in that it uses high-resolution mobile radar data (update time of 6–7 s) in tandem with polarimetric data from KFDR in order to identify possible areas of debris, including a debris ring contained within the outer vortex circulation. Leveraging the high spatiotemporal resolution of the AIR with the polarimetric capability of KFDR leads to analysis of reflectivity distributions, debris lofting, kinematic changes, and oscillations in tornado intensity during a portion of the mature stage of the tornado, with a particular focus on the relationship between changes in the reflectivity field and dynamical changes around the tornado. Debris is lofted in a high-reflectivity concentric ring of increasing radius and height around the tornado over several minutes, within the outer weak-echo hole (WEH). Simultaneously, debris lofting and asymmetric reflectivity distribution around the WEH coincide with changes in vortex tilt on multiple occasions. In one instance, hydrometeor fallout appears to precede a possible descending reflectivity core. Using the GBVTD results, near-surface convergence intensifies at the same time and location as when the debris ring is lofted. Additionally, strengthening of the tornado via multiple modes of vertical evolution (i.e., bottom-up intensification over time vs simultaneous intensification throughout the lowest few hundred meters) is observed.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: https://doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-17-0256.s1.

© 2018 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: Andrew Mahre, andrew.mahre@ou.edu

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