Observations of the 10 May 2010 Tornado Outbreak Using OU-PRIME: Potential for New Science with High-Resolution Polarimetric Radar

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  • 1 School of Meteorology, and Atmospheric Radar Research Center, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 2 Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 3 Atmospheric Radar Research Center, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 4 School of Meteorology, and Atmospheric Radar Research Center, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 5 Atmospheric Radar Research Center, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 6 School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 7 Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 8 School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Atmospheric Radar Research Center, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 9 Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
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A tornado outbreak occurred in central Oklahoma on 10 May 2010, including two tornadoes with enhanced Fujita scale ratings of 4 (EF-4). Tragically, three deaths were reported along with significant property damage. Several strong and violent tornadoes occurred near Norman, Oklahoma, which is a major hub for severe storms research and is arguably one of the best observed regions of the country with multiple Doppler radars operated by both the federal government and the University of Oklahoma (OU). One of the most recent additions to the radars in Norman is the high-resolution OU Polarimetric Radar for Innovations in Meteorology and Engineering (OU-PRIME). As the name implies, the radar is used as a platform for research and education in both science and engineering studies using polarimetric radar. To facilitate usage of the system by students and faculty, OU-PRIME was constructed adjacent to the National Weather Center building on the OU research campus. On 10 May 2010, several tornadoes formed near the campus while OU researchers were operating OU-PRIME in a sector scanning mode, providing polarimetric radar data with unprecedented resolution and quality. In this article, the environmental conditions leading to the 10 May 2010 outbreak will be described, an overview of OU-PRIME will be provided, and several examples of the data and possible applications will be summarized. These examples will highlight supercell polarimetric signatures during and after tornadogenesis, and they will describe how the polarimetric signatures are related to observations of reflectivity and velocity.

A tornado outbreak occurred in central Oklahoma on 10 May 2010, including two tornadoes with enhanced Fujita scale ratings of 4 (EF-4). Tragically, three deaths were reported along with significant property damage. Several strong and violent tornadoes occurred near Norman, Oklahoma, which is a major hub for severe storms research and is arguably one of the best observed regions of the country with multiple Doppler radars operated by both the federal government and the University of Oklahoma (OU). One of the most recent additions to the radars in Norman is the high-resolution OU Polarimetric Radar for Innovations in Meteorology and Engineering (OU-PRIME). As the name implies, the radar is used as a platform for research and education in both science and engineering studies using polarimetric radar. To facilitate usage of the system by students and faculty, OU-PRIME was constructed adjacent to the National Weather Center building on the OU research campus. On 10 May 2010, several tornadoes formed near the campus while OU researchers were operating OU-PRIME in a sector scanning mode, providing polarimetric radar data with unprecedented resolution and quality. In this article, the environmental conditions leading to the 10 May 2010 outbreak will be described, an overview of OU-PRIME will be provided, and several examples of the data and possible applications will be summarized. These examples will highlight supercell polarimetric signatures during and after tornadogenesis, and they will describe how the polarimetric signatures are related to observations of reflectivity and velocity.

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