Abstract

Some supercellular tornado outbreaks are comprised almost entirely of tornadic supercells, while most consist of both tornadic and nontornadic supercells sometimes in close proximity to each other. These differences are related to a balance between larger-scale environmental influences on storm development as well as more chaotic, internal evolution. For example, some environments may be potent enough to support tornadic supercells even if less predictable intra-storm characteristics are sub-optimal for tornadogenesis, while less potent environments are supportive of tornadic supercells given optimal intra-storm characteristics. This study addresses the sensitivity of tornadogenesis to both environmental characteristics and storm-scale features using a cloud modeling approach. Two high-resolution ensembles of simulated supercells are produced in the near- and far-field environments observed in the inflow of tornadic supercells during the second Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX2). All simulated supercells evolving in the near-field environment produce a tornado, and 33% of supercells evolving in the far-field environment produce a tornado. Composite differences between the two ensembles are shown to address storm-scale characteristics and processes impacting the volatility of tornadogenesis. Storm-scale variability in the ensembles is illustrated using empirical orthogonal function analysis, revealing storm-generated boundaries that may be linked to the volatility of tornadogenesis. Updrafts in the near-field ensemble are markedly stronger than those in the far-field ensemble during the time period in which the ensembles most differ in terms of tornado production. These results suggest that storm-environment modifications can influence the volatility of supercellular tornadogenesis.

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