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VORTEX2 Online

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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
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

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


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


  • 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


  • 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