Vortex2 tornado study finally gets some twisters to study

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:56 PM GMT on June 08, 2009

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A proven way to reduce the incidence of dangerous weather phenomena is to schedule a multi-million dollar field experiment to study the phenomena. Up until this past weekend, that has certainly been true of this year's $10 million Vortex2 tornado study. The 7-week study (which also runs next year) has deployed an armada of over 100 storm chasing vehicles across the Great Plains this Spring, but has largely been frustrated by an exceptionally quiet tornado season. Tornado activity in May was less than half of what was observed last year in May, thanks to a ridge of high pressure that has dominated the weather. The residents of Tornado Alley ran out of luck over the weekend, though, as a strong low pressure system and associated cold front brought severe weather and multiple tornadoes to the region. Sixteen tornado reports were received by NOAA's Storm Prediction Center yesterday, and three on Friday. The team of University of Michigan students that has been writing our featured Vortex2 blog caught some excellent pictures of tornadoes on both Friday and Sunday. Yesterday was probably the last best chance for the Vortex2 project to document a strong tornado, since the project ends this Saturday and no significant tornado outbreaks appear likely for the remainder of this week.

Aurora, Colorado tornado yesterday
A tornado with a 3/4 mile wide debris cloud swept through Aurora, Colorado yesterday, staying on the ground for 8 - 11 miles and damaging a shopping mall, but causing no deaths or injuries. The tornado passed close to one of the high-resolution Terminal Doppler Weather Radars (TDWRs) that we now feature on our web site (see the radar FAQ for more details on these great new additions to our radar offerings). Posted below are the reflectivity and Doppler velocity images from the tornado, showing the amazing fine-scale details these high-resolution radars offer.



Figure 1. Radar reflectivity (top) and Doppler velocity (bottom) from the Denver, Colorado Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR), which caught the classic signature of a supercell thunderstorm tornado over Aurora, Colorado. A tornado dropped down from the low-level mesocyclone inside the parent supercell thunderstorm at the time of these images. Yellow colors located right next to greens/blues indicate that winds are moving towards and away from the radar in close proximity, the signature of strong rotation at low levels. Also visible on the plot are the winds spreading out from a downdraft on the rear side of the tornado. Black arrows denote the direction of wind flow. The dryline was bent back into a E-W orientation near Denver, creating an area of moisture convergence, which triggered thunderstorm formation.

Western Caribbean disturbance unlikely to develop this week
As area of disturbed weather over the Western Caribbean has brought rains of 2 - 3 inches over portions of Nicaragua and Honduras over the past few days. Wind shear is a high 20 - 30 knots over the disturbance, and no computer models are indicating that the disturbance will develop this week.

Jeff Masters, with help from wunderground's tornado expert, Dr. Rob Carver

Dying out after an official 24 minutes on the ground
Tornado (Fungus)
Tornado
Twisted (rrose1)
This was taken approximately 30 minutes after a brief tornado passed through South Hutchinson, KS tonight. The building is a bus manufacturing facility.
Twisted

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1037. Levi32
Quoting Vortex95:


am I missing somthing?


What do you mean?
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
i'm watching the AOI east of Georgia, i believe there is too much shear for the storm in the Caribbean to develop into anything tropical but i am almost certain it will develop a low.
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cchs:I can see how your eye's could trick you w/sat presentation,next time check shear maps first,nothing can form tropically under that much shear:)
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1033. beell
Nice looking forecast sounding for Chanute, KS. In SE KS. Valid at 3 PM CDT.

A common phrase used in NWS/SPC severe products is "Large Low Level Curved Hodographs. A nice looking curved hodograph in the upper right. This one is not huge, but it aint too shabby. Close to 3,000 J/kg of CAPE insures that strong updrafts will be present per this forecast sounding.

The center of the hodograph is where the balloon would be launched-but remember, this is a forecast sounding. Make believe. And directions are backwards. The direction the balloon or parcel would get blown by the wind at each level of interest. At the surface-east winds at 20 knots. Point 1 is one kilometer up and falls inbetween the 20 and 30 knot wind speed rings. So, 1 kilometer up, the wind is from the south at 25 knots. At 2Km, from the SW at 30 knots.
All the way up to the end of the plot showing 70 knot winds from the west at/near 12Km.

Helicity is mathmatically computed by the area under the curved line and represents the amount of the "turning" of the winds into the a developing supercell. Surface to 3km Helicity is 327m2/s2) on this sounding. Pretty large. Winds corkscrewing into a storm are one of the primary mechanisms for initiating rotation in an updraft. As the windspeeds increase, they are plotted further away from the origin (center) of the hodograph. More area under the curve = higher helicity. If the winds were all unidirectional, say from the SW all the way up tornadoes are much less likely, and the hodograph would plot as a straight line at its simplest.

This is kinda brief-but useful to some I hope!



Click on the "star" in SE KS
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1032. IKE
Quoting Levi32:


Silly GFS doesn't know how to handle the upper trough. The higher-resolution NAM is handling the cut-off very well in recent runs.


I think whatever happens heads for the Yucatan...or what's left of it does.

I'm 99% sure a low will form. Whether it's tropical?
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting cchsweatherman:
Photobucket
hello everyone, i am seeing a spin on the visible for sure.
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1030. Levi32
Quoting scottsvb:



I think the GFS run is done well up to 42hrs..then has feedback error over Haiti with the convection...I think there will be convection there..but not as strong to form a weak split off low. The NAM (although not good for the tropics) is okay for the first 48hrs..and would favor that..but really the GFS also has a broad low there also.
Dry Air from the building ridge in the GOM folks..this is what will entrain down into the carribean.


Yeah well the GFS keeps developing the low right under the jet on the east side of the trough which doesn't make any sense. The 06z run moved it up to Florida under that jet as well. We'll just have to watch the southern Caribbean for now as it will be the best area with moisture and favorable upper-level winds 4-8 days from now.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
2004 Vs 2009

If there is nothing much to talk about the tropics I will have a blog on it

Enso: Similar but 2004 warming faster

NAO/Trades - both positive in May, trades run 2-5 knots higher in 2004

SSTs: Average across the basin the same but there was large local differences such as waters near Bermuda as warmer in 2009 than 2004 but waters in the tropical atlantic was slightly warmer in 2004.
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Quoting Levi32:


Silly GFS doesn't know how to handle the upper trough. The higher-resolution NAM is handling the cut-off very well in recent runs.



I think the GFS run is done well up to 42hrs..then has feedback error over Haiti with the convection...I think there will be convection there..but not as strong to form a weak split off low. The NAM (although not good for the tropics) is okay for the first 48hrs..and would favor that..but really the GFS also has a broad low there also.
Dry Air from the building ridge in the GOM folks..this is what will entrain down into the carribean.
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1026. Levi32
The problem is that mid-level spin is under 30 knots of shear, and will remain that way for a while. However, any mid-level feature left intact would aid in the formation of a surface low when the tropical wave starts interacting with the cut-off low.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
Quoting scottsvb:


Just checked obs down there...no west wind.. infact sat imagry shows a east wind in Nicargua all the way down to Coasta Rica... and on Honduras by the coast is the normal sea breeze...


In my graphic, I made a point in stating that "Its mainly mid-level right now". Didn't say anything about low-level vorticity at all.
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1024. Levi32
Quoting IKE:


12z NAM and GFS have 2 solutions to the low.


Silly GFS doesn't know how to handle the upper trough. The higher-resolution NAM is handling the cut-off very well in recent runs.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
True the mid and upper levels will be good in a few days..but alot of drier air will be in place.. I really dont see anything in the 5-10 period..maybe in a couple weeks though if something can get up to 11N entering the carribean from the Atlantic.

The ridging and dry air over the GOM will hamper any sign development with the current broad low in the carribean that may develop in a day or 2. It should also block any real north movement near 20N.. I still say florida has only a 10% chance of getting anything..but things can change!
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1022. IKE
Quoting Levi32:
Good morning all.

Tropical Tidbit for noon EDT June 9, 2009


12z NAM and GFS have 2 solutions to the low.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
1021. Levi32
Good morning all.

Tropical Tidbit for noon EDT June 9, 2009
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
Quoting IKE:


LOW-LEVEL CONVERGENCE....



OIC
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1019. IKE
Quoting SavannahStorm:






LOW-LEVEL CONVERGENCE....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting cchsweatherman:


Yes, I do recognize all your observations, but in taking a close look at visible satellite imagery, thats what I've been noticing this morning. But, as I stated in my first post this morning, it could just be convective development tricking my eyes into seeing a mid-level circulation.


Just checked obs down there...no west wind.. infact sat imagry shows a east wind in Nicargua all the way down to Coasta Rica... and on Honduras by the coast is the normal sea breeze...
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
I'd watch this area for development. As Ike stated, LLC and 850 MB Vort already established.





What LLC?

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Quoting cchsweatherman:


Yes, I do recognize all your observations, but in taking a close look at visible satellite imagery, thats what I've been noticing this morning. But, as I stated in my first post this morning, it could just be convective development tricking my eyes into seeing a mid-level circulation.


There is nothing there right now CCHS..its in the mid "And" upper levels. A broad low will form in about 24-48hrs south of Jamaica.
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Quoting stillwaiting:
cchs:just divergence in the ul creating the convection,shear is 30-40kts over the area as well,when shear starts to dropping in about 48-96hrs pressures w/start dropping in that area(approximate),imo:)


Yes, I do recognize all your observations, but in taking a close look at visible satellite imagery, thats what I've been noticing this morning. But, as I stated in my first post this morning, it could just be convective development tricking my eyes into seeing a mid-level circulation.
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the area may be created on the SE side of a ULL thats supposed to build over the yucatan/central america area..
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cchs:just divergence in the ul creating the convection,shear is 30-40kts over the area as well,when shear starts to dropping in about 48-96hrs pressures w/start dropping in that area(approximate),imo:)
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
I'd watch this area for development. As Ike stated, LLC and 850 MB Vort already established.



looks like some outflow boundries at the surface,this is the opposite of what needs to happen for TC develpment...
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Photobucket
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1010. JRRP
Quoting CybrTeddy:


Identical.

more or less:D
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I'd watch this area for development. As Ike stated, LLC and 850 MB Vort already established.
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Quoting JRRP:
2004

2009


Identical.
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1005. tcane
This is going to be a quiet hurricane season.
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1001. Patrap
Effect of El Nino on U.S. Landfalling Hurricanes, Revisited


Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol.79, No.11 (1998)

During the past 98 years, no El Nino event has ever been associated with more than one major U.S. hurricane. In contrast, the data shows there is a 27% chance for 2 or more major U.S. hurricanes during cold phase and a 8% chance during neutral conditions. It is also possible to see three major hurricanes during these phases of the ENSO cycle: 9% for cold phase, and 2% for neutral. No year has seen 4 or more major U.S. hurricanes.
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1000. JRRP
2004

2009
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Quoting Weather456:
El Nino is a pretty tough forecast. One person put it as "El Nino is observed not froecasted"

The El Nino of 2004 and 2006 and thier effects were observed but in June it was uncertain.


Interesting, that is why I have been asking how the models are impacted by this transition.
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
Next wave just starting to poke his head off the African coast.

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997. IKE
Quoting twhcracker:
seems like when we have el nino there is spectacular weather everywhere else and drought and heat over the fla panhandle, maybe the High from hell that parks here sometimes? I like La Nina better! at least it rains!


It's hot. I've got 87.8 degrees outside my window.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
The GA blowup looks like its still firmly embedded in the old frontal boundary.


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Quoting cchsweatherman:
Don't know whether it could just be the convective development tricking my eyes, but it seems there's some mid-level circulation becoming well established with the Western Caribbean disturbance that exited Nicaragua overnight.
Disturbance Visible Satellite Loop


Looks like it but, I've put our little Caribbean disturbance on hold till Wed.
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Quoting Weather456:
El Nino is a pretty trough forecast. One person put it as "El Nino is observed not froecasted"

The El Nino of 2004 and 2006 and thier effects were observed but in June it was uncertain.


Truly correct. It may just be one of those things we always strive to understand but never do.
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What are the odds of the government on ships going back and forth throwing disposable environmental friendly giant bags of ice to cool the Pacific to keep La Nino conditions and then little heaters to warm the waters to create EL Nino?
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Quoting JRRP:
2006


Compare that with what actually transpired, lol.
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El Nino is a pretty tough forecast. One person put it as "El Nino is observed not froecasted"

The El Nino of 2004 and 2006 and thier effects were observed but in June it was uncertain.
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seems like when we have el nino there is spectacular weather everywhere else and drought and heat over the fla panhandle, maybe the High from hell that parks here sometimes? I like La Nina better! at least it rains!
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Waters cooling off South AMerica in the Pacific should tell the tale, get ready for an active Atlantic Hurricane season folks can't always listen to the experts.
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987. auburn (Mod)
MUST SEE!!!

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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