3.2 VORTEX-SE: Lessons Learned and Early Results

Monday, 7 November 2016: 1:45 PM
Pavilion Ballroom (Hilton Portland )
Erik N. Rasmussen, CIMMS/NSSL and Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and S. Koch

This talk provides a synthesis of some of the early, preliminary results from the first research efforts supported in VORTEX-SE.  Some major emphases included mesoscale evolution of shear and CAPE, multiple-Doppler radar studies of potentially tornadic convection, and in situ observations related to cold pool strength.  The talk will build upon results reported in the late summer and fall of 2016, immediately prior to the conference.

In addition to analysis of experimental data, during the first field campaign of VORTEX-SE (March-April 2016), the participating scientists gained an appreciation of some the very difficult forecast and logistics problems associated with studying severe convection in the Southeast.  Subjective impressions include the great difficulty in anticipating the timing of the onset of convection, identifying regions with the most potential for tornadic storms, and anticipating storm morphology, interactions, and evolution.  Logistical constraints also were very different compared to earlier VORTEX experiments.  Road choices were limited in areas of suitable open land use and reduced urbanization.  Mobile radar sites were chosen from a handful of pre-selected and surveyed sites across northern Alabama.  Rapid storm evolution, and the inability to forecast that evolution, made observational targeting individual cells extremely difficult.

These early experiences have been very important in allowing VORTEX-SE to improve and refine the project science plan.  Whereas the early project objectives relied heavily upon the approaches of previous tornado research programs, the evolving science plan is now being informed by an improved understanding of the mix of observational and numerical simulation approaches appropriate for the Southeast U.S.  This talk will report on the latest VORTEX-SE science plan.  We will describe the approaches used for eliciting specific science questions and objectives, and how these approaches vary among the physical and social sciences.  We will informally highlight science plan revisions that will be completed immediately before the conference.  The changes to the science plan will be described in more detail in the extended abstract.

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