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Evolution and Morphology of Two Splitting Thunderstorms with Dominant Left-Moving Members

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  • 1 NOAA, Environmental Research Laboratories, National Severe Storms Laboratory, NOAA Oklahoma
  • | 2 Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

During the late afternoon and early evening of 27 June 1989. Three splitting thunderstorms formed over Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the southern portion of the North Dakota Thunderstorm Project area. The first two storms are the subject of this study. The entire life cycles of both storms were documented using a single ground-based Doppler radar. Radar reflectivity signatures of updraft summits and Doppler velocity signatures of divergence near storm top were used to deduce updraft evolution within the storms. Dual-Doppler radar observations from a ground-based radar and an airborne Doppler radar provided fragmentary documentation of the storms’ life cycles.

The splitting storms on that day were unusual in two distinct ways: (a) the left members of the splitting storms were the dominant and longer-lasting ones, and (b) none of the deduced updrafts were collocated with centers of vorticity signatures that would have indicated updraft rotation. Both of the left-moving storms had 10 sequential primary updrafts, whereas their right-hand counterparts had 3 or 4 primary updrafts. Initial formation of the right-flank updrafts lagged behind the initial formation of the left-flank updrafts by 40–70 min. All the individual updraft summits moved in the general direction of the mean wind. Sequential updraft development on the left and right flanks of the storms suggested that expanding gust fronts provided the propagational component of storm motion.

Abstract

During the late afternoon and early evening of 27 June 1989. Three splitting thunderstorms formed over Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the southern portion of the North Dakota Thunderstorm Project area. The first two storms are the subject of this study. The entire life cycles of both storms were documented using a single ground-based Doppler radar. Radar reflectivity signatures of updraft summits and Doppler velocity signatures of divergence near storm top were used to deduce updraft evolution within the storms. Dual-Doppler radar observations from a ground-based radar and an airborne Doppler radar provided fragmentary documentation of the storms’ life cycles.

The splitting storms on that day were unusual in two distinct ways: (a) the left members of the splitting storms were the dominant and longer-lasting ones, and (b) none of the deduced updrafts were collocated with centers of vorticity signatures that would have indicated updraft rotation. Both of the left-moving storms had 10 sequential primary updrafts, whereas their right-hand counterparts had 3 or 4 primary updrafts. Initial formation of the right-flank updrafts lagged behind the initial formation of the left-flank updrafts by 40–70 min. All the individual updraft summits moved in the general direction of the mean wind. Sequential updraft development on the left and right flanks of the storms suggested that expanding gust fronts provided the propagational component of storm motion.

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