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  • Author or Editor: J. France x
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Michael M. French, Donald W. Burgess, Edward R. Mansell, and Louis J. Wicker


Polarimetric radar observations obtained by the NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory mobile, X-band, dual-polarization radar (NOXP) are used to investigate “hook echo” precipitation properties in several tornadic and nontornadic supercells. Hook echo drop size distributions (DSDs) were estimated using NOXP data obtained from 2009 to 2012, including during the second Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX2). Differences between tornadic and nontornadic hook echo DSDs are explored, and comparisons are made with previous observations of estimated hook echo DSDs made from stationary S- and C-band Doppler radars. Tornadic hook echoes consistently contain radar gates that are characterized by small raindrops; nontornadic hook echoes are mixed between those that have some small-drop gates and those that have almost no small-drop gates. In addition, the spatial distribution of DSDs was estimated using the high-spatial-resolution data afforded by NOXP. A unique polarimetric signature, an area of relatively low values of differential radar reflectivity factor Z DR south and east of the tornado, is observed in many of the tornadic cases. Also, because most data were obtained using 2-min volumetric updates, the evolution of approximated hook echo precipitation properties was studied during parts of the life cycles of three tornadoes. In one case, there is a large decrease in the percentage of large-raindrop gates and an increase in the percentage of small-raindrop gates in the minutes leading up to tornado formation. The percentage of large-drop gates generally increases prior to and during tornado dissipation. Near-storm environmental data are used to put forth possible relationships between bulk hook echo DSDs and tornado production and life cycle.

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David M. Plummer, Jeffrey R. French, David C. Leon, Alan M. Blyth, Sonia Lasher-Trapp, Lindsay J. Bennett, David R. L. Dufton, Robert C. Jackson, and Ryan R. Neely


Analyses of the radar-observed structure and derived rainfall statistics of warm-season convection developing columns of enhanced positive differential reflectivity ZDR over England’s southwest peninsula are presented here. Previous observations of ZDR columns in developing cumulonimbus clouds over England were rare. The observations presented herein suggest otherwise, at least in the southwesterly winds over the peninsula. The results are the most extensive of their kind in the United Kingdom; the data were collected using the National Centre for Atmospheric Science dual-polarization X-band radar (NXPol) during the Convective Precipitation Experiment (COPE). In contrast to recent studies of ZDR columns focused on deep clouds that developed in high-instability environments, the COPE measurements show relatively frequent ZDR columns in shallower clouds, many only 4–5 km deep. The presence of ZDR columns is used to infer that an active warm rain process has contributed to precipitation evolution in convection deep enough for liquid and ice growth to take place. Clouds with ZDR columns were identified objectively in three COPE deployments, with both discrete convection and clouds embedded in larger convective complexes developing columns. Positive ZDR values typically extended to 1–1.25 km above 0°C in the columns, with ZDR ≥ 1 dB sometimes extending nearly 4 km above 0°C. Values above 3 dB typically occurred in the lowest 500 m above 0°C, with coincident airborne measurements confirming the presence of supercooled raindrops. Statistical analyses indicated that the convection that produced ZDR columns was consistently associated with the larger derived rainfall rates when compared with the overall convective population sampled by the NXPol during COPE.

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