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Title: The Regulation of Tornado Intensity by Updraft Width

Abstract

Forceful to violent tornadoes cause a disproportionate amount of damage, in part because the width and length of a tornado damage track are correlated to tornado intensity (as now estimated through enhanced Fujita scale ratings). The tendency expressed in the observational record is that the most intense tornadoes are often the widest. In this work, the authors explore the simple hypothesis that wide intense tornadoes should form more readily out of wide rotating updrafts. This theorem is based on an application of Kelvin’s circulation theorem, which is used to argue that the large circulation associated with a wide intense tornado is more plausibly associated with a wide mesocyclone. Because a mesocyclone is, strictly speaking, a rotating updraft, the mesocyclone width should increase with increasing updraft width. A simple mathematical model that is quantified using observations of mesocyclones supports this hypothesis, as do idealized numerical simulations of supercellular thunderstorms.

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Urbana, Illinois
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC); National Science Foundation (NSF)
OSTI Identifier:
1412007
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1541817
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0014101
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences Journal Volume: 74 Journal Issue: 12; Journal ID: ISSN 0022-4928
Publisher:
American Meteorological Society
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Atmosphere; Supercells; Tornadoes; Cloud resolving models

Citation Formats

Trapp, Robert J., Marion, Geoffrey R., and Nesbitt, Stephen W.. The Regulation of Tornado Intensity by Updraft Width. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. https://doi.org/10.1175/JAS-D-16-0331.1.
Trapp, Robert J., Marion, Geoffrey R., & Nesbitt, Stephen W.. The Regulation of Tornado Intensity by Updraft Width. United States. https://doi.org/10.1175/JAS-D-16-0331.1
Trapp, Robert J., Marion, Geoffrey R., and Nesbitt, Stephen W.. Fri . "The Regulation of Tornado Intensity by Updraft Width". United States. https://doi.org/10.1175/JAS-D-16-0331.1.
@article{osti_1412007,
title = {The Regulation of Tornado Intensity by Updraft Width},
author = {Trapp, Robert J. and Marion, Geoffrey R. and Nesbitt, Stephen W.},
abstractNote = {Forceful to violent tornadoes cause a disproportionate amount of damage, in part because the width and length of a tornado damage track are correlated to tornado intensity (as now estimated through enhanced Fujita scale ratings). The tendency expressed in the observational record is that the most intense tornadoes are often the widest. In this work, the authors explore the simple hypothesis that wide intense tornadoes should form more readily out of wide rotating updrafts. This theorem is based on an application of Kelvin’s circulation theorem, which is used to argue that the large circulation associated with a wide intense tornado is more plausibly associated with a wide mesocyclone. Because a mesocyclone is, strictly speaking, a rotating updraft, the mesocyclone width should increase with increasing updraft width. A simple mathematical model that is quantified using observations of mesocyclones supports this hypothesis, as do idealized numerical simulations of supercellular thunderstorms.},
doi = {10.1175/JAS-D-16-0331.1},
journal = {Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences},
number = 12,
volume = 74,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {12}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record
https://doi.org/10.1175/JAS-D-16-0331.1

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 3 works
Citation information provided by
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Works referencing / citing this record:

The Dynamical Coupling of Convective Updrafts, Downdrafts, and Cold Pools in Simulated Supercell Thunderstorms
journal, January 2019

  • Marion, G. R.; Trapp, R. J.
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 124, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1029/2018jd029055

Using Overshooting Top Area to Discriminate Potential for Large, Intense Tornadoes
journal, November 2019

  • Marion, G. R.; Trapp, R. J.; Nesbitt, S. W.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 46, Issue 21
  • DOI: 10.1029/2019gl084099