Finescale Structure of the LaGrange, Wyoming Tornado during VORTEX2: GBVTD and Photogrammetric Analyses

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Thursday, 8 November 2012: 8:45 AM
Symphony I and II (Loews Vanderbilt Hotel)
Phillip Stauffer, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and R. M. Wakimoto, W. C. Lee, N. T. Atkins, and J. Wurman
Manuscript (3.0 MB)


A ground-based velocity track display (GBVTD) analysis of the LaGrange, Wyoming tornado on 5 June 2009 during VORTEX2 is photogrammetrically combined with a series of pictures of the funnel cloud. This analysis reveals the relationship between the vertical velocity, radial and tangential velocities, perturbation pressure, vertical vorticity, and angular momentum with the visual features of the tornado. An intense axial downdraft was evident and was supported by a downward-directed perturbation pressure gradient. The radial inflow at low levels was weak and difficult to retrieve owing to a combination of centrifuging of hydrometeors/debris in the intense circulation and the inability of the radar beam to fully resolve the flow. The tornado was weakening during the analysis period which was supported by angular momentum being advected out of the tornado.

The availability of a dual-Doppler wind synthesis for this tornadic event provided a unique opportunity to assess the assumptions in the GBVTD methodology. The analysis suggests that the simplified GBVTD equations that have been applied in past studies of tornadoes are not appropriate in the present case. The most accurate retrieval of the radial velocities requires that a higher order term that is typically neglected be retained. A quantitative assessment of the impact of centrifuging of hydrometeors on the synthesized wind field was attempted. The results suggest that the radial and vertical velocity profile near and within the tornado core can be significantly altered for tornadoes (EF2) that are accompanied by a small radius of maximum wind and relatively weaker low-level inflow.