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WSR-88D Tornado Intensity Estimates. Part II: Real-Time Applications to Tornado Warning Time Scales

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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

A sample of damage-surveyed tornadoes in the contiguous United States (2009–17), containing specific wind speed estimates from damage indicators (DIs) within the Damage Assessment Toolkit dataset, were linked to radar-observed circulations using the nearest WSR-88D data in Part I of this work. The maximum wind speed associated with the highest-rated DI for each radar scan, corresponding 0.5° tilt angle rotational velocity Vrot, significant tornado parameter (STP), and National Weather Service (NWS) convective impact-based warning (IBW) type, are analyzed herein for the sample of cases in Part I and an independent case sample from parts of 2019–20. As Vrot and STP both increase, peak DI-estimated wind speeds and IBW warning type also tend to increase. Different combinations of Vrot, STP, and population density—related to ranges of peak DI wind speed—exhibited a strong ability to discriminate across the tornado damage intensity spectrum. Furthermore, longer duration of high Vrot (i.e., ≥70 kt) in significant tornado environments (i.e., STP ≥ 6) corresponds to increasing chances that DIs will reveal the occurrence of an intense tornado (i.e., EF3+). These findings were corroborated via the independent sample from parts of 2019–20, and can be applied in a real-time operational setting to assist in determining a potential range of wind speeds. This work provides evidence-based support for creating an objective and consistent, real-time framework for assessing and differentiating tornadoes across the tornado intensity spectrum.

© 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-20-0010.1.

Abstract

A sample of damage-surveyed tornadoes in the contiguous United States (2009–17), containing specific wind speed estimates from damage indicators (DIs) within the Damage Assessment Toolkit dataset, were linked to radar-observed circulations using the nearest WSR-88D data in Part I of this work. The maximum wind speed associated with the highest-rated DI for each radar scan, corresponding 0.5° tilt angle rotational velocity Vrot, significant tornado parameter (STP), and National Weather Service (NWS) convective impact-based warning (IBW) type, are analyzed herein for the sample of cases in Part I and an independent case sample from parts of 2019–20. As Vrot and STP both increase, peak DI-estimated wind speeds and IBW warning type also tend to increase. Different combinations of Vrot, STP, and population density—related to ranges of peak DI wind speed—exhibited a strong ability to discriminate across the tornado damage intensity spectrum. Furthermore, longer duration of high Vrot (i.e., ≥70 kt) in significant tornado environments (i.e., STP ≥ 6) corresponds to increasing chances that DIs will reveal the occurrence of an intense tornado (i.e., EF3+). These findings were corroborated via the independent sample from parts of 2019–20, and can be applied in a real-time operational setting to assist in determining a potential range of wind speeds. This work provides evidence-based support for creating an objective and consistent, real-time framework for assessing and differentiating tornadoes across the tornado intensity spectrum.

© 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-20-0010.1.

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