Temperature Inversion as a Factor in Formation of Tornadoes

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  • 1 U. S. Weather Bureau, Oklahoma City, Okla.
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Experimental results are shown which indicate that one of the factors which differentiates between ordinary thunderstorm convectivity and tornado activity may be the formation or intensification of a restricting layer such as a temperature inversion. Evidence is presented to show that such a layer, penetrated by a convective column, can bring about horizontal convergence beneath the layer into an area sufficiently small that, if some rotary motion is present, a funnel is produced. Indications are that the diameter of the opening through which the converging air exhausts has an important effect on the formation, type and intensity of the funnel. Further, it is shown that the formation or intensification of a temperature inversion may restrict the diameter of an existing convective column in a manner similar to the experimental device.

Experimental results are shown which indicate that one of the factors which differentiates between ordinary thunderstorm convectivity and tornado activity may be the formation or intensification of a restricting layer such as a temperature inversion. Evidence is presented to show that such a layer, penetrated by a convective column, can bring about horizontal convergence beneath the layer into an area sufficiently small that, if some rotary motion is present, a funnel is produced. Indications are that the diameter of the opening through which the converging air exhausts has an important effect on the formation, type and intensity of the funnel. Further, it is shown that the formation or intensification of a temperature inversion may restrict the diameter of an existing convective column in a manner similar to the experimental device.

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