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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Quoting TampaMishy:
So what does that mean Levi?????


Well the model is pointing out another possibility that could happen. Sometimes surface lows will form under upper lows in the tropics and develop. That is less likely than the other options in this situation. If it were to occur, development of the system would be very slow.

BTW all, jphurricane2006 gives a big hello to y'all!! He's banned from posting here but he follows the conversations.
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So what does that mean Levi?????
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834. beell
Quoting cchsweatherman:


Must say that you've done a terrific job teaching people how to dissect computer models here. Keep up the terrific work and I look forward to working in conjuncture with you during the upcoming season.


Thanks, cchs,
Trust me, it is not a one-way street. I would not hang around here if I couldn't learn a thing or two! Same to you.
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833. beell
Today's 18Z GFS at 500mb
Valid 00Z Wednesday.

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Well well what do we have here? The 00z GFS out to 72 hours now forms the Caribbean low directly under the trough-split.



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it died in here
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Quoting beell:
Here, dug this out of the basement. At least what I think a trough split looks like in a model. Granted-some wide latitude in what they look like. A clear split in the 500mb ridge. And to be honest I have not looked at very many of these things in the kind of detail demanded here at the WU LOL! From July 31st of 2008. This feature turned into TS Ed

Photobucket



Must say that you've done a terrific job teaching people how to dissect computer models here. Keep up the terrific work and I look forward to working in conjuncture with you during the upcoming season.
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Quoting beell:
Here, dug this out of the basement. At least what I think a trough split looks like in a model. Granted-some wide latitude in what they look like. A clear split in the 500mb ridge. And to be honest I have not looked at very many of these things in the kind of detail demanded here at the WU LOL! From July 31st of 2008. This feature turned into TS Ed

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Perfect example =)
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Quoting cchsweatherman:
Just wanted to come out and apologize for being jumpy last night regarding the disturbance in the Western Caribbean. I know that I did get some people worked up in making some jumpy conclusions last night based upon just a few observations. I do realize that many here have come to respect me and my opinions, so I need to be more careful and more rational than what I showed last night. It was out of character and irresponsible. Just need to reiterate to people that I'm still studying to become a meteorologist and am not a certified meteorologist.



Its all good!
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Quoting cchsweatherman:
Just wanted to come out and apologize for being jumpy last night regarding the disturbance in the Western Caribbean. I know that I did get some people worked up in making some jumpy conclusions last night based upon just a few observations. I do realize that many here have come to respect me and my opinions, so I need to be more careful and more rational than what I showed last night. It was out of character and irresponsible. Just need to reiterate to people that I'm still studying to become a meteorologist and am not a certified meteorologist.


Takes a lot to come out and apologize, you have serious respect from me for that.
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TY levi
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825. beell
Here, dug this out of the basement. At least what I think a trough split looks like in a model. Granted-some wide latitude in what they look like. A clear split in the 500mb ridge. And to be honest I have not looked at very many of these things in the kind of detail demanded here at the WU LOL! From July 31st of 2008. This feature turned into TS Ed

Photobucket

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Quoting cchsweatherman:
Just wanted to come out and apologize for being jumpy last night regarding the disturbance in the Western Caribbean. I know that I did get some people worked up in making some jumpy conclusions last night based upon just a few observations. I do realize that many here have come to respect me and my opinions, so I need to be more careful and more rational than what I showed last night. It was out of character and irresponsible. Just need to reiterate to people that I'm still studying to become a meteorologist and am not a certified meteorologist.


We all make mistakes CCHS it's all part of learning the art of forecasting. I'm a fellow student and I've made some big mistakes in my predictions but it's helped me learn a lot.
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Quoting MeterologistDewon9:


Alaska shouldn't be boring. You got Sarah Palin as governor, she didn't make the republican presidential campaign boring, she gave it excitement.


Lol.
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Quoting TampaMishy:
Does anyone know the statistics of Tampa getting hit full blown by a hurricane? I was always told Tampa is pretty safe because of how it lays.


Last time they were hit was October 1921. They are hard to hit directly because of the coastline, but they still get in the core of a lot of hurricanes, so I wouldn't call them "safe".
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welome
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
Does anyone know the statistics of Tampa getting hit full blown by a hurricane? I was always told Tampa is pretty safe because of how it lays.
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Quoting Levi32:


I'm telling ya living in Alaska is boring lol. I don't have as much to do right now but I'll probably end up eating those words later this summer. For now though I have more time on my hands.


Alaska shouldn't be boring. You got Sarah Palin as governor, she didn't make the republican presidential campaign boring, she gave it excitement.
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Just wanted to come out and apologize for being jumpy last night regarding the disturbance in the Western Caribbean. I know that I did get some people worked up in making some jumpy conclusions last night based upon just a few observations. I do realize that many here have come to respect me and my opinions, so I need to be more careful and more rational than what I showed last night. It was out of character and irresponsible. Just need to reiterate to people that I'm still studying to become a meteorologist and am not a certified meteorologist.
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Thank you Taz and Levi
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Good Metereology class by you two guys.(Drakoen & Levi).

Thanks.
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Glad to hear that WeatherStudent :)
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Quoting TampaMishy:
El Nino means less hurricanes? or chance of?


Generally hampers hurricane activity in the Atlantic yes, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to get over a dozen storms and a lot of them threatening land.
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Quoting TampaMishy:
El Nino means less hurricanes? or chance of?



less
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
El Nino means less hurricanes? or chance of?
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Quoting beell:
Maybe I just look at things backwards. But isn't it the ridge that gets split by a trough? The ridge split long ago. Not a split-a chasm! It has been off the east coast since back in May. Deep layer at times. Mid to upper almost always. The A/B ridge hanging to the east. And now we have a strengthening Mexican ridge on the west side. A stronger TUTT as a result?


Yes troughs can split highs and ridges can split lows and vice versa either way lol.

You're right, the high advecting into the western Gulf of Mexico out of the east Pacific is increasing the pressure gradient and hence strengthening the TUTT, but that doesn't mean the ridge in the GOM and the ridge in the Caribbean can't combine to pinch off the TUTT. The northern part of the TUTT is going to want to pull away anyway so leaving that southern piece behind isn't going to be too hard at all.
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# Daniel Swain Says:
June 8th, 2009 at 5:19 pm

I apologize for the lack of updates–this will be an extremely busy week. I will be able to have a full update Thursday evening, and a more comprehensive summary of last week over the weekend. Also, the Seasonal Outlook will definitely be updated in the next 1-2 weeks due to the increasing likelihood of a significant El Nino event. More later…the pattern still looks very unusual for June.
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Quoting WeatherStudent:


Hello there, Mishy! Long time no see, how you've been?
HI! I'm doing great and yourself? How is the baby?
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807. beell
Maybe I just look at things backwards. But isn't it the ridge that gets split by a trough? The ridge split long ago. Not a split-a chasm! It has been off the east coast since back in May. Deep layer at times. Mid to upper almost always. The A/B ridge hanging to the east. And now we have a strengthening Mexican ridge on the west side. A stronger TUTT as a result?
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Quoting scottsvb:
Mishy what part of tampa do you live? I live in New Tampa-Wesley Chapel
Brandon
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Just wanted to come out and apologize for being jumpy last night regarding the disturbance in the Western Caribbean. I know that I did get some people worked up in making some jumpy conclusions last night based upon just a few observations. I do realize that many here have come to respect me and my opinions, so I need to be more careful and more rational than what I showed last night. It was out of character and irresponsible. Just need to reiterate to people that I'm still studying to become a meteorologist and am not a certified meteorologist.
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Mishy what part of tampa do you live? I live in New Tampa-Wesley Chapel
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Goodnite everyone
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AOI #1

AOI #2
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting scottsvb:
sorry for typos btw peeps...I type fast and dont feel the need sometimes to spellcheck...ha!
LOL we all do
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I agree
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sorry for typos btw peeps...I type fast and dont feel the need sometimes to spellcheck...ha!
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Another one of my posts from this morning. I was talking about the convective pattern at the time but it's also great evidence that the trough-split is beginning.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I find this interesting. Last night, the upper trough over the western Caribbean was really digging in, and the strongest winds were on the east side of the base of the trough, west of Jamaica. This created the upper divergence that allowed the MCC bomb to form last night.

12 hours ago:


Today, the flow has begun to close off at the base of the trough, starting to form an upper closed low within the trough. As this happens the rest of the trough to the north is trying to lift out while the upper low stays put. This is causing the least positively tilted (in this case the most straight up-and-down) part of the trough to be further to the north, moving the strongest winds, pressure gradient, and strongest upper divergence over eastern Cuba and the Bahamas. This is why the blob bomb completely died today and most of the convection is now further to the north over eastern Cuba and the Bahamas.

Now:
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Quoting Levi32:


I agree, he's very knowledgeable and technically-minded.
Me too
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Quoting scottsvb:


He's like 17 or 18.. cause last year someone said he told them he was 16 and in 10th grade.


he's done better in learning the enviromental science over the past year..but early last year..most of his answers that he told people were not in the correct science of meteorology. but ..since then...he seems to have become more knowledgeable.
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Quoting TampaMishy:
He/She is actually very good..He/she was on spot last year..Can answer anyones question to a T


I agree, he's very knowledgeable and technically-minded.

Sometimes too technical.....lol
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Quoting Levi32:


Lol he's probably been through a MET course. People that have generally start uttering words in style like that. I still talk in a more plain style.
He/She is actually very good..He/she was on spot last year..Can answer anyones question to a T
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Quoting TampaMishy:
I dont really care who you are but I have watched you since last year. I cannot say if I saw you prior to that but, are you sure your not a meteorologist? You just speak and breathe weather talk. Just a compliment nothing else.


He's like 17 or 18.. cause last year someone said he told them he was 16 and in 10th grade.
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A ridge will develop over the central and eastern carribean in the next 3-5 days with the trough moving into the extreme Nw Carribean.
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Quoting TampaMishy:
I dont really care who you are but I have watched you since last year. I cannot say if I saw you prior to that but, are you sure your not a meteorologist? You just speak and breathe weather talk. Just a compliment nothing else.


Lol he's probably been through a MET course. People that have generally start uttering words in style like that. I still talk in a more plain style.
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May I join this? lol.. actually I think you both are kinda right...but the ECWMF isnt simular to the NAM... NAM is a NorthAmerican Model and Euro is just that..but gives a better look @ things in the longer range with the GFS.
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Quoting Drakoen:


I think you focus too much on trough-splits to be honest. I took a trip to 300mb and I see weak cyclone upper level flow. The closed low is at 200mb. It degenerates into an upper trough that advects up to the north. You need to focus more on isohypse.
I dont really care who you are but I have watched you since last year. I cannot say if I saw you prior to that but, are you sure your not a meteorologist? You just speak and breathe weather talk. Just a compliment nothing else.
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Quoting Drakoen:


I think you focus too much on trough-splits to be honest. I took a trip to 300mb and I see weak cyclone upper level flow. The closed low is at 200mb. It degenerates into an upper trough that advects up to the north. You need to focus more on isohypse.

There's a prominent closed low at 250mb over the Yucatan. Main energy goes northward

It would be better if you called a close upper cyclone splitting away from an upper trough a cut-off instead of a trough split. Trough-split just implies that the energy along the southern portion of the vorticity lobe has seperated from the main trough.


Which is exactly what is happening right now and what the NAM and 18z GFS forecasted. The GFS opening it back up into the GOM is unrealistic anyway.

I don't think "trough-split" is an officially used term but I could be wrong. I won't attempt to define it. To me it's as simple as what it says. "A trough splits". Typically I use it when referring to when a cut-off low drifts into the GOM or Caribbean and instigates tropical cyclogenesis in the early season.
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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.