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Single Doppler radar-retrieved structure of the 5 June 2009 Goshen County, Wyoming tornado

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Monday, 24 January 2011
Single Doppler radar-retrieved structure of the 5 June 2009 Goshen County, Wyoming tornado
Washington State Convention Center
Matthew B. Paulus, UCAR/SOARS, Boulder, CO

Tornadoes remain difficult to accurately predict, resulting in loss of life and costly economic impacts. This challenge comes partially from a limited understanding about their formation and structure. In addition, tornadoes are difficult to observe, due to their relatively small size and duration, and the distribution and limitations of instruments used to observe them. However, through a new application of a hurricane tracking and analysis technique, a high-resolution analysis of tornadoes is possible through observations from a single Doppler radar. The validity of this technique was analyzed in this research.

Through the ground-based Velocity Track Display (GBVTD) technique, a single Doppler radar can be used retrieve the three-dimensional kinematic structure of a tornado. The GBVTD technique and GBVTD-simplex center-finding algorithm first had to be adapted from use on hurricanes to use on tornadoes. This technique was then utilized to retrieve the two-dimensional circulation of the Goshen County, Wyoming tornado from data collected by two individual Doppler radars on Wheels (DOWs) during the VORTEX2 field campaign. The GBVTD-retrieved structure was analyzed throughout the tornado's lifecycle and was compared to preliminary dual-Doppler radar analyses.

The GBVTD technique was shown to resolve large-scale features of the storm circulation, as well as features of the tornado, and it compared favorably to the preliminary dual-Doppler analyses. The GBVTD technique was further shown to be adaptable to tornadoes and promising as a three-dimensional tornado analysis tool, capable of improving the current understanding of tornadoes and decreasing their potential impacts on society.