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XKCD Tornado Hunters

VORTEX2: Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment

Scientific Objectives of VORTEX2 Instruments

Mobile Radars

C-Band—SR1, SR2, DOW6, DOW7
Storm scale 500m AGL to storm top
Tornadogenesis, relationships between supercell storms and environments, storm-scale NWP, sampling the broad precipitation regions of storms
X-band—NOXP, UMASSX
Mesocyclone scale
Sample mesocyclone region tornado genesis, near-ground wind field in proximity to tornadoes, relationship between supercell storms and environments, storm-scale NWP. X-bands can detect smaller particles including cloud droplets and can be used to distinguish tornado debris clouds from precipitation
W-band, Ka-Band, CIRPAS—UMASSW, TTUKa

Tornado scale

  • Sample tornado structure
  • Estimate radial profile of wind in tornadoes
  • Estimate vertical variation of wind near the ground in tornadoes
  • Determine the reflectivity field in tornadoes
  • Temporal variation of wind and reflectivity in tornadoes and developing/decaying tornadoes
  • Relate tornado structure as a function of time to wind and reflectivity fields on tornado/cyclone/mesocyclone scale
  • Measure vertical shear profiles in the clear-air boundary layer just upstream from updraft bases in supercells prior to tornadogenesis
  • Attempt dual-Doppler analysis of a tornado or around a developing tornado in clear-air at very close range with very fine spatial resolution
  • TTUka scan over StickNet array during passage of updraft region
Rapid-Scan DOW
5-10s 3D updates in the tornadogenesis phase to sample rapid tornado structural changes

Photogrammetry

Collect DSLP imagery of wall cloud, tornado and debris, and damage, including 80h of aerial survey time.

  • Damage survey data combined with radar data
  • Investigate relationship between tornado and parent circulation
  • Examine relationship between intensities of the mesocyclone, tornado, and attendant surface damage intensity
  • Better understand features within hook echo such as single-Doppler velocity features, multi-parameter features

Mobile mesonets

  • Sample the surface thermodynamics and wind fields throughout the storm
  • Tornadogenesis
  • Relationships between supercell storms and their environments
  • Storm-scale NWP

StickNets

  • Baroclinity and low-level mesocyclogenesis (resolving Thermodynamic/kinematic discontinuities in forward flank
  • Multiple storm interaction/tornadogenesis
  • Impacts of near-tornado thermodynamic setting on tornado maintenance
  • Temperature measurements
  • Storm-scale data assimilation/NWP verification

Particle probe/disdrometers

  • Physical process measurements – the evaporation rate within hook appendage precipitation, drag, centrifuging
  • Microphysical parameterizations
  • Intra and inter-storm DSD shape variability
  • Understanding multi-scale interactions between microphysical and kinematic processes and their relevance for tornado genesis
  • Water content (buoyancy calculations, radar attenuation, polarimetric measurement ground truth)

Unmanned aerial systems

  • Collect data for high fidelity storm simulations
  • Measure P, T, RH and wind velocities across outflow boundaries and beneath the supercell rear flank

Soundings

  • Pre-storm environment and Mesoscale heterogeneity
  • Refinement of v2 forecast/target
  • NWP storm simulation and data assimilation
  • Baseline for study of environment modification by storms
  • Storm-environment interactions
  • Preexisting Mesoscale boundaries and interactions
  • Storm-scale baroclinity