A Comparison of Right-Moving Supercell and Quasi-Linear Convective System Tornadoes in the contiguous United States 2003–2021
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A Comparison of Right-Moving Supercell and Quasi-Linear Convective System Tornadoes in the contiguous United States 2003–2021

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  • Journal Title:
    Weather and Forecasting
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  • Description:
    Tornadoes produced by right-moving supercells (RM) and quasi-linear convective systems (QLCS) are compared across the contiguous United States for the period 2003–2021, based on the maximum F/EF-scale rating per hour on a 40-km horizontal grid. The frequency of QLCS tornadoes has increased dramatically since 2003 while the frequency of RM tornadoes has decreased during that same period. Prior work noting that the most common damage rating for QLCS tornadoes at night is EF1 persists in this larger, independent sample. A comparison of WSR-88D radar attributes between RM and QLCS tornadoes shows no appreciable differences between EF0 tornadoes produced by either convective mode. Differences become apparent for EF1–2 tornadoes, where rotational velocity is larger and velocity couplet diameter is smaller for RM tornadoes compared to QLCS tornadoes. The frequency of tornadic debris signatures (TDS) in dual polarization data is also larger for EF1–2 RM tornadoes when controlling for tornadoes sampled relatively close to the radar sites, and during daylight versus overnight. The weaker rotational velocities, broader velocity couplet diameters, and lower frequencies of TDSs both close to the radar and at night for QLCS EF1 tornadoes suggest that a combination of inadequate radar sampling and occasional misclassification of wind damage may be responsible for the irregularities in the historical record of QLCS tornado reports.
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  • Source:
    Weather and Forecasting (2023)
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  • ISSN:
    0882-8156;1520-0434;
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