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WSR-88D Tornado Intensity Estimates. Part I: Real-Time Probabilities of Peak Tornado Wind Speeds

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  • 1 NOAA/NWS/NCEP, Storm Prediction Center, Norman, Oklahoma
  • 2 NOAA/NWS, Weather Forecast Office, Norman, Oklahoma
  • 3 Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
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Abstract

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has developed a database of damage-surveyed tornadoes in the contiguous United States (2009–17) that relates environmental and radar-derived storm attributes to damage ratings that change during a tornado life cycle. Damage indicators (DIs), and the associated wind speed estimates from tornado damage surveys compiled in the Damage Assessment Toolkit (DAT) dataset, were linked to the nearest manual calculations of 0.5° tilt angle maximum rotational velocity Vrot from single-site WSR-88D data. For each radar scan, the maximum wind speed from the highest-rated DI, Vrot, and the significant tornado parameter (STP) from the SPC hourly objective mesoscale analysis archive were recorded and analyzed. Results from examining Vrot and STP data indicate an increasing conditional probability for higher-rated DIs (i.e., EF-scale wind speed estimate) as both STP and Vrot increase. This work suggests that tornadic wind speed exceedance probabilities can be estimated in real time, on a scan-by-scan basis, via Vrot and STP for ongoing tornadoes.

© 2020 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: Bryan T. Smith, bryan.smith@noaa.gov

This article has a companion article which can be found at http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/WAF-D-20-0011.1.

Abstract

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has developed a database of damage-surveyed tornadoes in the contiguous United States (2009–17) that relates environmental and radar-derived storm attributes to damage ratings that change during a tornado life cycle. Damage indicators (DIs), and the associated wind speed estimates from tornado damage surveys compiled in the Damage Assessment Toolkit (DAT) dataset, were linked to the nearest manual calculations of 0.5° tilt angle maximum rotational velocity Vrot from single-site WSR-88D data. For each radar scan, the maximum wind speed from the highest-rated DI, Vrot, and the significant tornado parameter (STP) from the SPC hourly objective mesoscale analysis archive were recorded and analyzed. Results from examining Vrot and STP data indicate an increasing conditional probability for higher-rated DIs (i.e., EF-scale wind speed estimate) as both STP and Vrot increase. This work suggests that tornadic wind speed exceedance probabilities can be estimated in real time, on a scan-by-scan basis, via Vrot and STP for ongoing tornadoes.

© 2020 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: Bryan T. Smith, bryan.smith@noaa.gov

This article has a companion article which can be found at http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/WAF-D-20-0011.1.

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