Near-Surface Vortex Structure in a Tornado and in a Sub-Tornado-Strength Convective-Storm Vortex Observed by a Mobile, W-Band Radar during VORTEX2
- Author(s): Tanamachi, Robin L
- Bluestein, Howard B
- Xue, Ming
- Lee, Wen-Chau
- Orzel, Krzysztof A
- Frasier, Stephen J
- Wakimoto, Roger M
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-12-00331.1
Abstract As part of the Second Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX2) field campaign, a very high-resolution, mobile, W-band Doppler radar collected near-surface (≤200 m AGL) observations in an EF-0 tornado near Tribune, Kansas, on 25 May 2010 and in sub-tornado-strength vortices near Prospect Valley, Colorado, on 26 May 2010. In the Tribune case, the tornado's condensation funnel dissipated and then reformed after a 3-min gap. In the Prospect Valley case, no condensation funnel was observed, but evidence from the highest-resolution radars in the VORTEX2 fleet indicates multiple, sub-tornado-strength vortices near the surface, some with weak-echo holes accompanying Doppler velocity couplets. Using high-resolution Doppler radar data, the authors document the full life cycle of sub-tornado-strength vortex beneath a convective storm that previously produced tornadoes. The kinematic evolution of these vortices, from genesis to decay, is investigated via ground-based velocity track display (GBVTD) analysis of the W-band velocity data. It is found that the azimuthal velocities in the Tribune tornado fluctuated in concert with the (dis)appearance of the condensation funnel. However, the dynamic pressure drop associated with the retrieved azimuthal winds was not sufficient to account for the condensation funnel. In the Prospect Valley case, the strongest and longest-lived sub-tornado-strength vortex exhibited similar azimuthal velocity structure to the Tribune tornado, but had weaker azimuthal winds. In both cases, the radius of maximum azimuthal wind was inversely related to the wind speed, and changes in the axisymmetric azimuthal component of velocity were consistent with independent indicators of vortex intensification and decay.