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Kun Zhao, Mingjun Wang, Ming Xue, Peiling Fu, Zhonglin Yang, Xiaomin Chen, Yi Zhang, Wen-Chau Lee, Fuqing Zhang, Qing Lin, and Zhaohui Li

Abstract

On 4 October 2015, a miniature supercell embedded in an outer rainband of Typhoon Mujigae produced a major tornado in Guangdong province of China, leading to 4 deaths and up to 80 injuries. This study documents the structure and evolution of the tornadic miniature supercell using coastal Doppler radars, a sounding, videos, and a damage survey. This tornado is rated at least EF3 on the enhanced Fujita scale. It is by far the strongest typhoon rainband tornado yet documented in China, and possessed double funnels near its peak intensity.

Radar analysis indicates that this tornadic miniature supercell exhibited characteristics similar to those found in United States landfalling hurricanes, including a hook echo, low-level inf low notches, an echo top below 10 km, a small and shallow mesocyclone, and a long lifespan (3 h). The environmental conditions—which consisted of moderate convective available potential energy (CAPE), a low lifting condensation level, a small surface dewpoint depression, a large veering low-level vertical wind shear, and a large cell-relative helicity—are favorable for producing miniature supercells. The mesocyclone, with its maximum intensity at 2 km above ground level (AGL), formed an hour before tornadogenesis. A tornado vortex signature (TVS) was identified between 1 and 3 km AGL, when the parent mesocyclone reached its peak radar-indicated intensity of 30 m s−1. The TVS was located between the updraft and forward-flank downdraft, near the center of the mesocyclone. Dual-Doppler wind analysis reveals that tilting of the low-level vorticity into the vertical direction and subsequent stretching by a strong updraft were the main contributors to the mesocyclone intensification.

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