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Rodger A. Brown

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Rodger A. Brown

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Rodger A. Brown

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A technique is described whereby an investigator can obtain a more representative peak velocity for a tornadic vortex signature (TVS) than can be obtained by using the extreme measured Doppler velocities associated with the signature. This technique, which is based on theoretical curves derived by scanning a simulated radar through Rankine combined vortices, is applied to WSR-88D Doppler velocity data collected in the Garden City, Kansas, tornado of 16 May 1995. The technique produces peak TVS velocities that are more consistent in time and height than those computed directly from the extreme measured values.

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Rodger A. Brown

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One of the distinguishing characteristics of a supercell thunderstorm is the presence of a rotating updraft. During the past 30 years, various hypotheses have been proposed to explain the initiation and maintenance of rotation. However, attempts to verify the initiation process have been frustrated by the lack of multiple-Doppler radar measurements at the time that the first rotating updraft appears. Discussed in this paper are dual-Doppler radar measurements that successfully captured the initiation and evolution of rotation in the Agawam, Oklahoma, storm of 6 June 1979, which occurred during the storm-scale phase of the Severe Environmental Storms and Mesoscale Experiment (SESAME). The process leading to updraft rotation appears to follow that proposed in 1968 by Fujita and Grandoso, whereby a middle-altitude vorticity couplet formed on the downwind flanks of a strong nonrotating updraft, with cyclonic vertical vorticity on the right-forward flank and anticyclonic vertical vorticity on the left-forward flank. With low-altitude flow approaching the storm from the right, a new updraft developed on the rightward-propagating gust front located along the right edge of the storm beneath the cyclonic vorticity region. The growing updraft acquired cyclonic rotation at middle altitudes by entraining and stretching the ambient vertical vorticity. Subsequent right-flank updrafts in the Agawam storm appear to have developed middle-altitude rotation in the same manner. Based on observations made within the Agawam storm and its immediate environment, the conventional hypothesis that employs low-altitude vertical shear of the horizontal wind as the vorticity source did not likely play a significant role in establishing updraft rotation.

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RODGER A. BROWN

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Rodger A. Brown

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Composite profiles of thermodynamic and kinematic variables are prepared to represent the characteristics of the environment within which a particular atmospheric phenomenon occurs. During the averaging process, it is desirable to retain the dominant features and associated gradients found in the individual profiles so that representative values of quantities such as flux parameters, energy budgets, convective available potential energy, and various stability indices can be computed from the composite profiles. The conventional compositing approach, where averages are computed at common heights, reduces or even smooths out a significant feature when the height and vertical extent of the feature differ from one individual profile to the next.

To retain a desirable feature in the composite profile, it is necessary to compute averages at the heights where the feature occurs and to compute the average height of the feature itself. As an example of the capabilities of this scaling or feature-preserving approach, the technique was applied to a set of 33 hodographs from supercell thunderstorm environments as documented in the literature. The feature-preserving technique retained realistic wind-shear values, including a midlatitude minimum-shear layer that disappeared when the conventional compositing technique was used.

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Vincent T. Wood and Rodger A. Brown

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Simulated WSR-88D (Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler) radar data were used to investigate the effects of discrete azimuthal sampling on Doppler velocity signatures of modeled mesocyclones and tornadoes at various ranges from the radar and for various random positions of the radar beam with respect to the vortices. Results show that the random position of the beam can change the magnitudes and locations of peak Doppler velocity values. The important implication presented in this study is that short-term variations in tornado and far-range mesocyclone intensity observed by a WSR-88D radar may be due to evolution or due to the chance positions of the radar beam relative to the vortex’s maximum rotational velocities or due to some combination of both.

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Rodger A. Brown and Vincent T. Wood

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A tornadic vortex signature (TVS) is a degraded Doppler velocity signature of a tornado that occurs when the core region of a tornado is smaller than the half-power beamwidth of the sampling Doppler radar. Soon after the TVS was discovered in the mid-1970s, simulations were conducted to verify that the signature did indeed represent a tornado. The simulations, which used a uniform reflectivity distribution across a Rankine vortex model, indicated that the extreme positive and negative Doppler velocity values of the signature should be separated by about one half-power beamwidth regardless of tornado size or strength. For a Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) with an effective half-power beamwidth of approximately 1.4° and data collected at 1.0° azimuthal intervals, the two extreme Doppler velocity values should be separated by 1.0°. However, with the recent advent of 0.5° azimuthal sampling (“superresolution”) by WSR-88Ds at lower elevation angles, some of the extreme Doppler velocity values unexpectedly were found to be separated by 0.5° instead of 1.0° azimuthal intervals. To understand this dilemma, the choice of vortex model and reflectivity profile is investigated. It is found that the choice of vortex model does not have a significant effect on the simulation results. However, using a reflectivity profile with a minimum at the vortex center does make a difference. The revised simulations indicate that it is possible for the distance between the peak Doppler velocity values of a TVS to be separated by 0.5° with superresolution data collection.

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Vincent T. Wood and Rodger A. Brown

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When a thunderstorm mesocyclone changes range relative to a Doppler radar, the deduced core diameter and mean rotational velocity of the Doppler velocity mesocyclone signature oscillate back and forth, even though the radar beam’s physical width changes uniformly with range. The authors investigated the oscillations using a model mesocyclone and a simulated Doppler radar that collected data with an azimuthal sampling interval of 1°. They found that the oscillations are a consequence of changing data point separation with range relative to the Doppler velocity peaks of the mesocyclone signature.

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Rodger A. Brown and Vincent T. Wood

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Although the flow field within a severe thunderstorm is complex, it is possible to simulate the basic features using simple analytical flow models (such as uniform flow, axisymmetric rotation, axisymmetric divergence). Combinations of such flow models are used to produce simulated Doppler velocity patterns that can be used as “signatures” for identifying quasi-horizontal flow features within severe thunderstorms. Some of these flow features are: convergence in the lower portions of a storm and divergence in the upper portions associated with a strong updraft, surface divergence associated with a wet or dry downdraft, mesocyclone (rotating updraft), flow around an updraft obstacle, and tornado. Recognition of the associated Doppler velocity patterns can aid in the interpretation of single-Doppler radar measurements that include only the radial component of flow in the radar viewing direction.

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