Evaluating the Ability of Remote Sensing Observations to Identify Significantly Severe and Potentially Tornadic Storms
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Evaluating the Ability of Remote Sensing Observations to Identify Significantly Severe and Potentially Tornadic Storms
  • Published Date:

    2019

  • Source:
    J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol. (2019) 58 (12): 2569–2590.
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  • Description:
    Remote sensing observations, especially those from ground-based radars, have been used extensively to discriminate between severe and nonsevere storms. Recent upgrades to operational remote sensing networks in the United States have provided unprecedented spatial and temporal sampling to study such storms. These networks help forecasters subjectively identify storms capable of producing severe weather at the ground; however, uncertainties remain in how to objectively identify severe thunderstorms using the same data. Here, three large-area datasets (geostationary satellite, ground-based radar, and ground-based lightning detection) are used over 28 recent events in an attempt to objectively discriminate between severe and nonsevere storms, with an additional focus on severe storms that produce tornadoes. Among these datasets, radar observations, specifically those at mid- and upper levels (altitudes at and above 4 km), are shown to provide the greatest objective discrimination. Physical and kinematic storm characteristics from all analyzed datasets imply that significantly severe [≥2-in. (5.08 cm) hail and/or ≥65-kt (33.4 m s−1) straight-line winds] and tornadic storms have stronger upward motion and rotation than nonsevere and less severe storms. In addition, these metrics are greatest in tornadic storms during the time in which tornadoes occur.
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