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Ernani de Lima Nascimento, Gerhard Held, and Ana Maria Gomes


During the late afternoon hours of 24 May 2005 a severe weather outbreak occurred in the state of São Paulo, southeastern Brazil. Severe thunderstorms were observed ahead of a surface cold front, including a (Southern Hemisphere) cyclonic left-moving supercell that produced a multiple-vortex tornado in the outskirts of the town of Indaiatuba, Brazil (23.1°S, 47.2°W). A documentation of the multivortex structure of the tornado and of the cloud-base features is performed using still images from a video that recorded the event. Characteristics of the tornadic thunderstorm and the synoptic-scale environment in which it developed are examined using Doppler radar data, geostationary satellite imagery, surface and upper-air observations, and data from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s Climate Forecast System Reanalysis. The cloud base of the thunderstorm displayed morphological features associated with midlatitude tornadic supercells, including a low-level mesocyclone and a “clear slot”; however, the rear-flank downdraft did not obscure the view of the tornado from the western flank of the storm. The tornadic storm developed in a moist prefrontal environment with a low-level jet. Limited mesoscale observations hampered the quantitative analysis of the local thermodynamic forcing, but the available data suggest that the supercell developed under moderate conditional instability. Strong speed and directional vertical wind shear were observed, while the local boundary layer displayed very high relative humidity and low surface-based lifting condensation level.

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Harold E. Brooks, Charles A. Doswell III, Xiaoling Zhang, A. M. Alexander Chernokulsky, Eigo Tochimoto, Barry Hanstrum, Ernani de Lima Nascimento, David M. L. Sills, Bogdan Antonescu, and Brad Barrett


The history of severe thunderstorm research and forecasting over the past century has been a remarkable story involving interactions between technological development of observational and modeling capabilities, research into physical processes, and the forecasting of phenomena with the goal of reducing loss of life and property. Perhaps more so than any other field of meteorology, the relationship between researchers and forecasters has been particularly close in the severe thunderstorm domain, with both groups depending on improved observational capabilities.

The advances that have been made have depended on observing systems that did not exist 100 years ago, particularly radar and upper-air systems. They have allowed scientists to observe storm behavior and structure and the environmental setting in which storms occur. This has led to improved understanding of processes, which in turn has allowed forecasters to use those same observational systems to improve forecasts. Because of the relatively rare and small-scale nature of many severe thunderstorm events, severe thunderstorm researchers have developed mobile instrumentation capabilities that have allowed them to collect high-quality observations in the vicinity of storms.

Since much of the world is subject to severe thunderstorm hazards, research has taken place around the world, with the local emphasis dependent on what threats are perceived in that area, subject to the availability of resources to study the threat. Frequently, the topics of interest depend upon a single event, or a small number of events, of a particular kind that aroused public or economic interests in that area. International cooperation has been an important contributor to collecting and disseminating knowledge.

As the AMS turns 100, the range of research relating to severe thunderstorms is expanding. The time scale of forecasting or projecting is increasing, with work going on to study forecasts on the seasonal to subseasonal time scales, as well as addressing how climate change may influence severe thunderstorms. With its roots in studying weather that impacts the public, severe thunderstorm research now includes significant work from the social science community, some as standalone research and some in active collaborative efforts with physical scientists.

In addition, the traditional emphases of the field continue to grow. Improved radar and numerical modeling capabilities allow meteorologists to see and model details that were unobservable and not understood a half century ago. The long tradition of collecting observations in the field has led to improved quality and quantity of observations, as well as the capability to collect them in locations that were previously inaccessible. Much of that work has been driven by the gaps in understanding identified by theoretical and operational practice.

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Stephen W. Nesbitt, Paola V. Salio, Eldo Ávila, Phillip Bitzer, Lawrence Carey, V. Chandrasekar, Wiebke Deierling, Francina Dominguez, Maria Eugenia Dillon, C. Marcelo Garcia, David Gochis, Steven Goodman, Deanna A. Hence, Karen A. Kosiba, Matthew R. Kumjian, Timothy Lang, Lorena Medina Luna, James Marquis, Robert Marshall, Lynn A. McMurdie, Ernani de Lima Nascimento, Kristen L. Rasmussen, Rita Roberts, Angela K. Rowe, Juan José Ruiz, Eliah F.M.T. São Sabbas, A. Celeste Saulo, Russ S. Schumacher, Yanina Garcia Skabar, Luiz Augusto Toledo Machado, Robert J. Trapp, Adam C. Varble, James Wilson, Joshua Wurman, Edward J. Zipser, Ivan Arias, Hernán Bechis, and Maxwell A. Grover


This article provides an overview of the experimental design, execution, education and public outreach, data collection, and initial scientific results from the Remote Sensing of Electrification, Lightning, and Mesoscale/Microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations (RELAMPAGO) field campaign. RELAMPAGO was a major field campaign conducted in the Córdoba and Mendoza provinces in Argentina and western Rio Grande do Sul State in Brazil in 2018–19 that involved more than 200 scientists and students from the United States, Argentina, and Brazil. This campaign was motivated by the physical processes and societal impacts of deep convection that frequently initiates in this region, often along the complex terrain of the Sierras de Córdoba and Andes, and often grows rapidly upscale into dangerous storms that impact society. Observed storms during the experiment produced copious hail, intense flash flooding, extreme lightning flash rates, and other unusual lightning phenomena, but few tornadoes. The five distinct scientific foci of RELAMPAGO—convection initiation, severe weather, upscale growth, hydrometeorology, and lightning and electrification—are described, as are the deployment strategies to observe physical processes relevant to these foci. The campaign’s international cooperation, forecasting efforts, and mission planning strategies enabled a successful data collection effort. In addition, the legacy of RELAMPAGO in South America, including extensive multinational education, public outreach, and social media data gathering associated with the campaign, is summarized.

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