Doppler Circulation as a Fairly Range-Insensitive Far-Field Tornado Detection and Precursor Parameter
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Doppler Circulation as a Fairly Range-Insensitive Far-Field Tornado Detection and Precursor Parameter
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  • Source:
    J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol. (2020) 37 (6): 1117–1133.
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  • Description:
    Formulas are obtained for observed circulation around and contraction rate of a Doppler radar grid cell within a surface of constant launch angle. The cell values near unresolved axisymmetric vortices vary greatly with beam-to-flow angle. To obtain reliable standard measures of vortex strength we bilinearly interpolate data to points on circles of specified radii concentric with circulation centers and compute the Doppler circulations around and the areal contraction rates of these circles from the field of mean Doppler velocities. These parameters are proposed for detection of strong tornadoes and mesocyclonic winds. The circulation and mean convergence around the Union City, Oklahoma, tornado of 24 May 1973 are computed. After doubling to compensate for the unobserved wind component, the circulation (1.1 × 105 m2 s−1) agrees with a previous photogrammetric measurement. The mature tornado was embedded in a region, 6 km in diameter, of nearly uniform strong convergence (~5.5 × 10−3 s−1) without a simultaneous mesocyclone. A model of a convergent vortex inputted to a Doppler radar emulator reproduces these results. Moving the model vortex shows that for a WSR-88D with superresolution, the circulation is relatively insensitive to range and azimuth. WSR-88D data of the 31 May 2013 El Reno storm are also analyzed. The tornado formed in a two-celled mesocyclone with strong inflow 5 km away. In the next 8 min the circulation near the axis doubled and the areal contraction rate at 5 km increased by 50%. This signified a large probability of strong tornadoes embedded in powerful storm-scale winds.
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