15A.1 Field Campaign Results from the VORTEX-SE Program

Friday, 8 June 2018: 8:00 AM
Colorado A (Grand Hyatt Denver)
Steven E. Koch, NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK; and E. N. Rasmussen

The Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes EXperiment-Southeast (VORTEX-SE) is a research program designed to understand how environmental factors characteristic of the southeastern United States affect the formation, intensity, structure, and path of tornadoes in this region. VORTEX-SE is also determining the best methods for communicating forecast uncertainty related to these events to the public, and evaluating public response. Previous VORTEX 1-2 projects occurred over the Great Plains, studied tornadoes that form under quite different meteorological and climatological conditions than over the Southeastern US, did not emphasize tornadoes produced by squall lines nor the role of terrain in tornado formation and intensity, and lacked social science goals related to the communication of tornado warnings and the human response. These behavioral and sociological factors are recognized as major needs in adequately addressing tornado fatality issues in the Southeast. Another important distinction is that, due to the unique climatology of tornadoes and the challenging terrain features in the Southeastern US, a much less mobile but longer-duration observing approach characterizes VORTEX-SE field operations compared to past field programs. Thus, in many ways, the VORTEX-SE program represents a new approach to tornado research in general.

We will discuss the project objectives, planning and coordination for past and upcoming VORTEX-SE field campaigns. A key concept underlying these field campaigns is the notion of evolutionary planning: as more is learned about the physical and social science factors that contribute to the high mortality associated with tornadoes in this region of the country, the field objectives adapt to the evolving scientific priorities informed by this improved understanding. We will summarize those evolving scientific themes and the progress made by researchers in the physical and social-behavioral sciences toward attaining the primary goals of this project. Particular emphasis will be placed on the subject of present challenges and progress made in numerical prediction of tornadic storms.

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