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Using Data from the Meteorological Data Collection and Reporting System to Ascertain the Near-Storm Environment near Memphis, Tennessee During the 5-6 February 2008 Tornado Outbreak

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Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Using Data from the Meteorological Data Collection and Reporting System to Ascertain the Near-Storm Environment near Memphis, Tennessee During the 5-6 February 2008 Tornado Outbreak
Michael B. Scotten, NOAA/NWS, Memphis, TN
Manuscript (359.6 kB)

Poster PDF (511.9 kB)

The Meteorological Data Collection and Reporting System (MDCRS) developed for the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Weather Service (NWS) enables the collection and organization of real-time weather data from about 1,500 participating aircraft. These data include environmental temperature, wind and -- in some cases -- water vapor. These data have been shown to aid weather forecasting, particularly in understanding the near-storm environment for severe thunderstorms, and are used in NWS operations to make critical warning decisions.

In this study, MDCRS data from aircraft in the vicinity of Memphis, Tennessee, were analyzed to determine how the temperature and wind changed prior to, and during, the 5-6 February 2008 “Super Tuesday” tornado outbreak. The MDCRS soundings indicated a pronounced weakening of a mid-level capping inversion prior to the outbreak. The soundings also indicated a noticeable increase in atmospheric winds which resulted in greater shear and storm relative helicities which supported the development of tornadic supercells.