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A Concentrated Outbreak of Tornadoes, Downbursts and Microbursts, and Implications Regarding Vortex Classification

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University. University Park PA 16802
  • | 2 Department of the Geophysical Sciences, The University of Chicago. Chicago, IL 60637
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Abstract

A remarkable case of severe weather occurred near Springfield, Illinois on 6 August 1977. Aerial and ground surveys revealed that 17 cyclonic vortices an anticyclonic vortex, 10 downbursts and 19 microbursts occurred in a limited (20 km × 40 km) area, associated with a bow-shaped radar echo. About half Of the vortices appeared to have occurred along a gust front. Some of the other appear to have occurred within the circulation of a mesocyclone accompanying the bow echo, but these vortices seem to have developed specifically in response to localized boundary-layer vorticity generation associated with horizontal and vertical wind shears on the periphery of microbursts. Some of these vortices, and other destructive vortices in the literature, do not qualify as tornadoes as defined in the Glossary of Meteorology. A moon pragmatic definition of a tornado is suggested.

Abstract

A remarkable case of severe weather occurred near Springfield, Illinois on 6 August 1977. Aerial and ground surveys revealed that 17 cyclonic vortices an anticyclonic vortex, 10 downbursts and 19 microbursts occurred in a limited (20 km × 40 km) area, associated with a bow-shaped radar echo. About half Of the vortices appeared to have occurred along a gust front. Some of the other appear to have occurred within the circulation of a mesocyclone accompanying the bow echo, but these vortices seem to have developed specifically in response to localized boundary-layer vorticity generation associated with horizontal and vertical wind shears on the periphery of microbursts. Some of these vortices, and other destructive vortices in the literature, do not qualify as tornadoes as defined in the Glossary of Meteorology. A moon pragmatic definition of a tornado is suggested.

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