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John R. Stonitsch
and
Paul M. Markowski

Abstract

Dual-Doppler observations acquired by a network of mobile radars deployed in the Oklahoma panhandle on 3 June 2002 are used to document the kinematic structure and evolution of a front. The data were collected during the International H2O Project on a mission to study the initiation of deep convection. Synchronized scanning allowed for the synthesis of three-dimensional wind fields for nearly 5.5 h of the 1557–0000 UTC period. The front initially moved southward as a cold front, stalled, and later retreated northward as a warm front. Deep convection failed to be initiated along the front. In situ thermodynamic measurements obtained by a mobile mesonet were used to document changes in the density gradient at the surface. This paper examines the relationships among the changes in baroclinity, the thermally direct frontal circulation, updraft intensity, alongfront updraft variability, and the intensity of vortices along the front.

Increases in the front-normal density gradient tended to be associated with increases in the thermally direct frontal circulation, as expected. Increases in the front-normal density gradient were also associated with an increase in the tilt of the frontal updraft as well as an increase in the contiguity of the updraft along the front, termed the “slabularity.” During periods when the front-normal density gradient and associated thermally direct frontal circulation were weak, the kinematic fields were dominated by boundary layer convection and the slabularity of the front was reduced. Intensification of the front-normal density gradient was accompanied by an increase in the horizontal wind shear and the intensity of vortices that were observed along the front. The vortices modulated the vertical velocity field along the front and therefore the slabularity, too. Thus, although the slabularity was a strong function of the strength of the thermally direct frontal circulation, the slabularity appeared to be modified by vortices in complex ways. Possible implications of the observations for convection initiation are also discussed, particularly with respect to updraft tilt and slabularity.

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Abdullah Kahraman
and
Paul M. Markowski

Abstract

A climatology of tornadoes in Turkey is presented using records from a wide variety of sources (e.g., the Turkish State Meteorological Service, European Severe Weather Database, newspaper archives, Internet searches, etc.). The climatology includes the annual, diurnal, geographical, and intensity distributions of both mesocyclonic and nonmesocyclonic tornadoes. From 1818 to 2013, 385 tornado cases were obtained. The tornadoes range from F0 to F3, with F1 being the most frequently reported or inferred intensity. Mesocyclonic tornadoes are most likely in May and June, and a secondary maximum in frequency is present in October and November. Nonmesocyclonic tornadoes (waterspouts) are most common in the winter along the (southern) Mediterranean coast and in the fall along the Black Sea (northern) coast. Tornadoes (both mesocyclonic and nonmesocyclonic) are most likely in the afternoon and early evening hours.

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Paul M. Markowski
and
George H. Bryan

Abstract

In idealized simulations of convective storms, which are almost always run as large-eddy simulations (LES), the planetary boundary layers (PBLs) are typically laminar (i.e., they lack turbulent eddies). When compared with turbulent simulations, theory, or simulations with PBL schemes, the typically laminar LES used in the severe-storms community produce unrealistic near-surface vertical wind profiles containing excessive vertical wind shear when the lower boundary condition is nonfree slip. Such simulations are potentially problematic given the recent interest within the severe storms community in the influence of friction on vorticity generation within tornadic storms. Simulations run as LES that include surface friction but lack well-resolved turbulent eddies thus probably overestimate friction’s effects on storms.

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Christopher J. Nowotarski
and
Paul M. Markowski

Abstract

This study investigates the changes that simulated supercell thunderstorms impart on their surroundings. Supercells are simulated in a strongly sheared convective boundary layer comprising horizontal roll vortices. In sensitivity tests, the effects of cloud shading on the near-storm environment are explored through the removal of cloud ice, water, and hydrometeor effects on parameterized radiation. All of the simulated supercells increase the low-level shear in their proximal environment; however, this effect is more pronounced when cloud shading is included. Shading stabilizes the boundary layer beneath the cirrus anvil, diminishes boundary layer rolls and their attendant thermodynamic perturbations, and reduces the intensity of resolved turbulent mixing in the convective boundary layer. Anvil shading also acts to reduce the buoyancy of inflow air and the horizontal buoyancy gradient along the forward-flank outflow boundary.

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Andrew J. Oberthaler
and
Paul M. Markowski

Abstract

Numerical simulations are used to investigate how the attenuation of solar radiation by the intervening cumulonimbus cloud, particularly its large anvil, affects the structure, intensity, and evolution of quasi-linear convective systems and the sensitivity of the effects of this “anvil shading” to the ambient wind profile. Shading of the pre-gust-front inflow environment (as opposed to shading of the cold pool) has the most important impact on the convective systems. The magnitude of the low-level cooling, associated baroclinicity, and stabilization of the pre-gust-front environment due to anvil shading generally increases as the duration of the shading increases. Thus, for a given leading anvil length, a slow-moving convective system tends to be affected more by anvil shading than does a fast-moving convective system. Differences in the forward speeds of the convective systems simulated in this study are largely attributable to differences in the mean environmental wind speed over the depth of the troposphere.

Anvil shading reduces the buoyancy realized by the air parcels that ascend through the updrafts. As a result, anvil shading contributes to weaker updrafts relative to control simulations in which clouds are transparent to solar radiation. Anvil shading also affects the convective systems by modifying the low-level (nominally 0–2.5 km AGL) vertical wind shear in the pre-gust-front environment. The shear modifications affect the slope of the updraft region and system-relative rear-to-front flow, and the sign of the modifications is sensitive to the ground-relative vertical wind profile in the far-field environment. The vertical wind shear changes are brought about by baroclinic vorticity generation associated with the horizontal buoyancy gradient that develops in the shaded boundary layer (which makes the pre-gust-front, low-level vertical wind shear less westerly) and by a reduction of the vertical mixing of momentum due to the near-surface (nominally 0–300 m AGL) stabilization that accompanies the shading-induced cooling. The reduced mixing makes the pre-gust-front, low-level vertical shear more (less) westerly if the ambient, near-surface wind and wind shear are westerly (easterly).

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Paul M. Markowski
and
Yvette P. Richardson

Abstract

Idealized, dry simulations are used to investigate the roles of environmental vertical wind shear and baroclinic vorticity generation in the development of near-surface vortices in supercell-like “pseudostorms.” A cyclonically rotating updraft is produced by a stationary, cylindrical heat source imposed within a horizontally homogeneous environment containing streamwise vorticity. Once a nearly steady state is achieved, a heat sink, which emulates the effects of latent cooling associated with precipitation, is activated on the northeastern flank of the updraft at low levels. Cool outflow emanating from the heat sink spreads beneath the updraft and leads to the development of near-surface vertical vorticity via the “baroclinic mechanism,” as has been diagnosed or inferred in actual supercells that have been simulated and observed.

An intense cyclonic vortex forms in the simulations in which the environmental low-level wind shear is strong and the heat sink is of intermediate strength relative to the other heat sinks tested. Intermediate heat sinks result in the development (baroclinically) of substantial near-surface circulation, yet the cold pools are not excessively strong. Moreover, the strong environmental low-level shear lowers the base of the midlevel mesocyclone, which promotes strong dynamic lifting of near-surface air that previously resided in the heat sink. The superpositioning of the dynamic lifting and circulation-rich, near-surface air having only weak negative buoyancy facilitates near-surface vorticity stretching and vortex genesis. An intense cyclonic vortex fails to form in simulations in which the heat sink is excessively strong or weak or if the low-level environmental shear is weak.

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Paul M. Markowski
and
Jerry Y. Harrington

Abstract

This note reports the preliminary results of an ongoing numerical study designed to investigate what effects, if any, radiative transfer processes can have on the evolution of convective storms. A pair of idealized three-dimensional simulations are conducted to demonstrate the potential dynamical importance of shortwave radiation reductions within the large shadows cast by storms. One of the simulations (the control) is run without surface physics and radiation. In the other simulation, radiative cooling due to cloud shading is emulated by prescribing a cooling rate to the skin temperature at any grid point at which cloud water was present overhead. The imposed skin cooling rate is consistent with past observations. Low-level air temperatures are coupled to the skin cooling in this second simulation by the inclusion of surface sensible heat fluxes using simple bulk aerodynamic drag laws (latent and soil heat fluxes are not included). Significant differences are observed between the two simulated storms, particularly in the evolution of the vertical vorticity field and gust fronts. The storm simulated with emulated cloud shading develops substantially weaker low-level rotation than the storm in the control simulation.

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Paul M. Markowski
and
Yvette P. Richardson

Abstract

In idealized numerical simulations of supercell-like “pseudostorms” generated by a heat source and sink in a vertically sheared environment, a tornado-like vortex develops if air possessing large circulation about a vertical axis at the lowest model levels can be converged. This is most likely to happen if the circulation-rich air possesses only weak negative buoyancy (the circulation-rich air has a history of descent, so typically possesses at least some negative buoyancy) and is subjected to an upward-directed vertical perturbation pressure gradient force. This paper further explores the sensitivity of the development of near-surface vertical vorticity to the horizontal position of the heat sink. Shifting the position of the heat sink by only 2–3 km can significantly influence vortex intensity by altering both the baroclinic generation of circulation and the buoyancy of circulation-rich air. Many of the changes in the pseudostorms that arise from shifting the position of the heat sink would be difficult to anticipate. The sensitivity of the pseudostorms to heat sink position probably at least partly explains the well-known sensitivity of near-surface vertical vorticity development to the microphysics parameterizations in more realistic supercell storm simulations, as well as some of the failures of actual supercells to produce tornadoes in seemingly favorable environments.

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Brice E. Coffer
and
Paul M. Markowski
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Robert Davies-Jones
and
Paul M. Markowski

Abstract

Fine-resolution computer models of supercell storms generate realistic tornadic vortices. Like real tornadoes, the origins of these virtual vortices are mysterious. To diagnose the origin of a tornado, typically a near-ground material circuit is drawn around it. This circuit is then traced back in time using backward trajectories. The rate of change of the circulation around the circuit is equal to the total force circulation. This circulation theorem is used to deduce the origins of the tornado’s large vorticity. However, there is a well-known problem with this approach; with staggered grids, parcel trajectories become uncertain as they dip into the layer next to the ground where horizontal wind cannot be interpolated. To circumvent this dilemma, we obtain a generalized circulation theorem that pertains to any circuit. We apply this theorem either to moving circuits that are constrained to simple surfaces or to a “hybrid” circuit defined next. Let A be the horizontal surface at one grid spacing off the ground. Above A the circuit moves as a material circuit. Horizontal curve segments that move in A with the horizontal wind replace segments of the material circuit that dip below A. The circulation equation for the modified circuit includes the force circulation of the inertial force that is required to keep the curve segments horizontal. This term is easily evaluated on A. Use of planar or circular circuits facilitates explanation of some simple flows. The hybrid-circuit method significantly improves the accuracy of the circulation budget in an idealized supercell simulation.

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