6A.2 Improvements to the NOAA P-3 Airborne Doppler Tail-Mounted Radar: Super Cell Observations from VORTEX-Southeast

Monday, 28 August 2017: 1:45 PM
St. Gallen (Swissotel Chicago)
David P. Jorgensen, NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK; and C. L. Ziegler, E. N. Rasmussen, A. S. Goldstein, and A. A. Alford

NOAA has improved its vertically-scanning X-band radar mounted in the tail of its P-3 aircraft to increase its sensitivity to weak echoes (decrease from ~0 dBZ to ~9 dBZ at 10 km range), add a 2nd transmitter/receiver to allow for simultaneous forward and aft looking beams in 360 deg. sweeps, and nearly double the antenna rotation rate to improve the horizontal data spacing of the intersecting beams to ~300-500 m from the previous data spacing of ~1200 m. These improvements make the radar more amenable for the study of severe convective storms that may contain miso-and mesocyclones on horizontal scales of as small as ~1-5 km in diameter.

The Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment-Southeast (VORTEX-SE) is an effort to understand how environmental factors characteristic of the southeastern United States affect the formation, intensity, structure, and path of tornadoes in this region. The March-April 2017 project involved the NOAA P-3 which investigated isolated severe storms and quasi-linear convective systems (QLCS). The aircraft flew on the leading edge of 2 isolated super cellular storms 0n April 5, 2017 between Birmingham, AL and Atlanta, GA at ~1500 m MSL to observe several bowing segments that possibly indicated the presence of circulations. Analyses will be presented to illustrate the low-level flow and reflectivity structure of these case studies and contrast them with previous analyses of airborne Doppler analyses of supercells (e.g., Ziegler et al. 2001 Newcastle–Graham, Texas, Storm Complex during VORTEX1).

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