3B.6 ARMOR dual-polarimetric radar observations of tornadic debris signatures

Monday, 27 October 2008: 2:45 PM
South Ballroom (Hilton DeSoto)
Walter A. Petersen, NASA / MSFC, Huntsville, AL ; and L. D. Carey, K. R. Knupp, C. J. Schultz, and E. V. Johnson

During the Super-Tuesday tornado outbreak of 5-6 February 2008, two EF-4 tornadoes occurred in Northern Alabama within 75 km range of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) Advanced Radar for Meteorological and Operational Research (ARMOR, C-band dual-polarimetric). This study will present an analysis of ARMOR radar-indicated dual-polarimetric tornadic debris signatures. The debris signatures were associated with spatially-confined large decreases in the copolar correlation coefficient (rhoHV) that were embedded within broader mesocyclone “hook” signatures. These debris signatures were most obviously manifest during the F-3 to F-4 intensity stages of the tornado(s) and extended to altitudes of approximately 3 km. The rhoHV signatures of the tornadic debris were the most easily distinguished relative to other polarimetric and radial velocity parameters (e.g., associated with large hail and/or the incipient mesocyclone). Based on our analysis, and consistent with the small number of studies found in the literature, we conclude that dual-polarimetric radar data offer at least the possibility for enhancing specificity and confidence in the process of issuing tornado warnings based only on radar detection of threatening circulation features.
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