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Title: Supercell-External Storms and Boundaries acting as Catalysts for Tornadogenesis
Abstract It has long been observed that interactions of a supercell with other storms or storm-scale boundaries sometimes seem to directly instigate tornadogenesis. First, the authors explore the frequency of such constructive interactions. WSR-88D radar data are used to categorize 136 tornadic supercells into isolated supercells and supercells that interacted with external factors within 20 min before tornadogenesis. Most cases (80%) showed some form of external influence prior to tornadogenesis. Common patterns of interactions, the typical supercell quadrant that is affected, and changes in azimuthal shear are also identified. To further study these interactions, two sets of idealized CM1 simulations are performed. The first set demonstrates that the speed of the near-ground horizontal flow relative to the updraft can control whether a vortex patch develops into a tornado. A weaker updraft-relative flow is favorable because the developing vortex stays in the updraft region longer and becomes less tilted. Building on these results, it is shown that external outflow can lead to tornado formation by a deceleration of the updraft-relative flow. The deceleration is caused by the pressure gradient force associated with the external outflow, which is already noticeable several kilometers ahead of the outflow boundary. This offers another possible mechanism by which external outflow can act as a catalyst for supercell tornadogenesis.  more » « less
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Monthly Weather Review
Medium: X
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National Science Foundation
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