Tornado-Resolving Ensemble and Probabilistic Predictions of the 20 May 2013 Newcastle–Moore EF5 Tornado
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Tornado-Resolving Ensemble and Probabilistic Predictions of the 20 May 2013 Newcastle–Moore EF5 Tornado

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  • Journal Title:
    Monthly Weather Review
  • Description:
    An ensemble of 10 forecasts is produced for the 20 May 2013 Newcastle–Moore EF5 tornado and its parent supercell using a horizontal grid spacing of 50 m, nested within ensemble forecasts with 500-m horizontal grid spacing initialized via ensemble Kalman filter data assimilation of surface and radar observations. Tornadic circulations are predicted in all members, though the intensity, track, and longevity of the predicted tornado vary substantially among members. Overall, tornadoes in the ensemble forecasts persisted longer and moved to the northeast faster than the observed tornado. In total, 8 of the 10 ensemble members produce tornadoes with winds corresponding to EF2 intensity or greater, with maximum instantaneous near-surface horizontal wind speeds of up to 130 m s−1 and pressure drops of up to 120 hPa; values similar to those reported in observational studies of intense tornadoes. The predicted intense tornadoes all acquire well-defined two-cell vortex structure, and exhibit features common in observed tornadic storms, including a weak-echo notch and low reflectivity within the mesocyclone. Ensemble-based probabilistic tornado forecasts based upon near-surface wind and/or vorticity fields at 10 m above the surface produce skillful forecasts of the tornado in terms of area under the relative operating characteristic curve, with probability swaths extending along and to the northeast of the observed tornado path. When probabilistic swaths of 0–3- and 2–5-km updraft helicity are compared to the swath of wind at 10 m above the surface exceeding 29 m s−1, a slight northwestward bias is present, although the pathlength, orientation, and the placement of minima and maxima show very strong agreement.
  • Source:
    Monthly Weather Review, 147(4), 1215-1235
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