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Mobile Radar Observations of the Evolving Debris Field Compared with a Damage Survey of the Shawnee, Oklahoma, Tornado of 19 May 2013

  • Author(s): Wakimoto, Roger M;
  • Wienhoff, Zachary;
  • Bluestein, Howard B;
  • Bodine, David J;
  • Kurdzo, James M
  • et al.

AbstractA detailed damage survey is combined with high-resolution mobile, rapid-scanning X-band polarimetric radar data collected on the Shawnee, Oklahoma, tornado of 19 May 2013. The focus of this study is the radar data collected during a period when the tornado was producing damage rated EF3. Vertical profiles of mobile radar data, centered on the tornado, revealed that the radar reflectivity was approximately uniform with height and increased in magnitude as more debris was lofted. There was a large decrease in both the cross-correlation coefficient (ρhv) and differential radar reflectivity (ZDR) immediately after the tornado exited the damaged area rated EF3. Low ρhv and ZDR occurred near the surface where debris loading was the greatest. The 10th percentile of ρhv decreased markedly after large amounts of debris were lofted after the tornado leveled a number of structures. Subsequently, ρhv quickly recovered to higher values. This recovery suggests that the largest debris had been centrifuged or fallen out whereas light debris remained or continued to be lofted. Range–height profiles of the dual-Doppler analyses that were azimuthally averaged around the tornado revealed a zone of maximum radial convergence at a smaller radius relative to the leading edge of lofted debris. Low-level inflow into the tornado encountering a positive bias in the tornado-relative radial velocities could explain the existence of the zone. The vertical structure of the convergence zone was shown for the first time.

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