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Adam J. French and Matthew D. Parker

Abstract

Output from idealized numerical simulations is used to investigate the storm-scale processes responsible for squall-line evolution following a merger with an isolated supercell. A simulation including a squall line–supercell merger is compared to one using the same initial squall line and background environment without the merger. These simulations reveal that while bow echo formation is favored by the strongly sheared background environment, the merger produces a more compact bowing structure owing to a locally enhanced rear-inflow jet. The merger also represents a favored location for severe weather production relative to other portions of the squall line, with surface winds, vertical vorticity, and rainfall all being maximized in the vicinity of the merger.

An analysis of storm-scale processes reveals that the premerger squall line weakens as it encounters outflow from the preline supercell, and the supercell becomes the leading edge of the merged system. Subsequent localized strengthening of the cold pool and rear-inflow jet produce a compact, intense bow echo local to the merger, with a descending rear-inflow jet creating a broad swath of damaging surface winds. These features, common to severe bow echoes, are shown to be a direct result of the merger in the present simulations, and are diminished or absent in the no-merger simulation. Sensitivity tests reveal that mergers in a weaker vertical wind shear environment do not produce an enhanced bow echo structure, and only produce a localized region of marginally enhanced surface winds. Additional tests demonstrate that the details of postmerger evolution vary with merger location along the line.

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Casey E. Letkewicz, Adam J. French, and Matthew D. Parker

Abstract

Base-state substitution (BSS) is a novel modeling technique for approximating environmental heterogeneity in idealized simulations. After a certain amount of model run time, base-state substitution replaces the original horizontally homogeneous background environment with a new horizontally homogeneous environment while maintaining any perturbations that have developed during the preceding simulation. This allows the user to independently modify the kinematic or thermodynamic environments, or replace the entire sounding without altering the structure of the perturbation fields. Such an approach can provide a powerful hypothesis test, for example, in a study of how an isolated convective storm would respond to a different environment within a horizontally homogeneous setting. The BSS modifications can be made gradually or instantaneously, depending on the needs of the user. In this paper both the gradual and instantaneous BSS procedures are demonstrated for simulations of deep moist convection, using first a wholly idealized setup and then a pair of observed near-storm soundings. Examination of domainwide model statistics demonstrates that model stability is maintained following the introduction of the new background environment. Following BSS, domain total mass and energy exhibit the expected instantaneous jumps upward or downward as a result of the imposed changes to the mean thermal and wind profiles, after which they remain steady during the subsequent simulation. The gridded model fields are well behaved and change gradually as the simulated storms respond meteorologically to their new environments. The paper concludes with a discussion of several unique aspects of the BSS approach.

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Timothy A. Supinie, Youngsun Jung, Ming Xue, David J. Stensrud, Michael M. French, and Howard B. Bluestein

Abstract

Several data assimilation and forecast experiments are undertaken to determine the impact of special observations taken during the second Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX2) on forecasts of the 5 June 2009 Goshen County, Wyoming, supercell. The data used in these experiments are those from the Mobile Weather Radar, 2005 X-band, Phased Array (MWR-05XP); two mobile mesonets (MM); and several mobile sounding units. Data sources are divided into “routine,” including those from operational Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Dopplers (WSR-88Ds) and the Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) network, and “special” observations from the VORTEX2 project.

VORTEX2 data sources are denied individually from a total of six ensemble square root filter (EnSRF) data assimilation and forecasting experiments. The EnSRF data assimilation uses 40 ensemble members on a 1-km grid nested inside a 3-km grid. Each experiment assimilates data every 5 min for 1 h, followed by a 1-h forecast. All experiments are able to reproduce the basic evolution of the supercell, though the impact of the VORTEX2 observations was mixed. The VORTEX2 sounding data decreased the mesocyclone intensity in the latter stages of the forecast, consistent with observations. The MWR-05XP data increased the forecast vorticity above approximately 1 km AGL in all experiments and had little impact on forecast vorticity below 1 km AGL. The MM data had negative impacts on the intensity of the low-level mesocyclone, by decreasing the vertical vorticity and indirectly by decreasing the buoyancy of the inflow.

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Michael M. French, Patrick S. Skinner, Louis J. Wicker, and Howard B. Bluestein

Abstract

Unique observations of the interaction and likely merger of two cyclonic tornadoes are documented. One of the tornadoes involved in the interaction was the enhanced Fujita scale (EF5) El Reno–Piedmont, Oklahoma, tornado from 24 May 2011 and the other was a previously undocumented tornado. Data from three S-band radars: Twin Lakes, Oklahoma (KTLX); Norman, Oklahoma (KOUN); and the multifunction phased-array radar (MPAR), are used to detail the formation of the second tornado, which occurred to the northwest of the original tornado in an area of strong radial convergence. Radar data and isosurfaces of azimuthal shear provide evidence that both tornadoes formed within an elongated area of mesocyclone-scale cyclonic rotation. The path taken by the primary tornado and the formation location of the second tornado are different from previous observations of simultaneous cyclonic tornadoes, which have been most often observed in the cyclic tornadogenesis process. The merger of the two tornadoes occurred during the sampling period of a mobile phased-array radar—the Mobile Weather Radar, 2005 X-Band, Phased Array (MWR-05XP). MWR-05XP electronic scanning in elevation allowed for the merger process to be examined up to 4 km above radar level every 11 s. The tornadic vortex signatures (TVSs) associated with the tornadoes traveled around each other in a counterclockwise direction then merged in a helical manner up through storm midlevels. Upon merging, both the estimated intensity and size of the TVS associated with the resulting tornado increased dramatically. Similarities between the merger observed in this case and in previous cases also are discussed.

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Michael M. French, Howard B. Bluestein, David C. Dowell, Louis J. Wicker, Matthew R. Kramar, and Andrew L. Pazmany

Abstract

On 15 May 2003, two ground-based, mobile, Doppler radars scanned a supercell that moved through the Texas Panhandle and cyclically produced mesocyclones. The two radars collected data from the storm during a rapid cyclic mesocyclogenesis stage and a more slowly evolving tornadic period. A 3-cm-wavelength radar scanned the supercell continuously for a short time after it was cyclic but close to the time of tornadogenesis. A 5-cm-wavelength radar scanned the supercell the entire time it exhibited cyclic behavior and for an additional 30 min after that. The volumetric data obtained with the 5-cm-wavelength radar allowed for the individual circulations to be analyzed at multiple levels in the supercell. Most of the circulations that eventually dissipated moved rearward with respect to storm motion and were located at distances progressively farther away from the region of rear-flank outflow. The circulations associated with a tornado did not move nearly as far rearward relative to the storm. The mean circulation diameters were approximately 1–4 km and had lifetimes of 10–30 min. Circulation dissipation often, but not always, occurred following decreases in circulation diameter, while changes in maximum radial wind shear were not reliable indicators of circulation dissipation. In one instance, a pair of circulations rotated cyclonically around, and moved toward, each other; the two circulations then combined to form one circulation. Single-Doppler radial velocities from both radars were used to assess the differences between the pretornadic circulations and the tornadic circulations. Storm outflow in the rear flank of the storm increased notably during the time cyclic mesocyclogenesis slowed and tornado formation commenced. Large storm-relative inflow likely advected the pretornadic circulations rearward in the absence of organized outflow. The development of strong outflow in the rear flank probably balanced the strong inflow, allowing the tornadic circulations to stay in areas rich in vertical vorticity generation.

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