92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Sunday, 22 January 2012
A Comparison of Significant Tornadoes in the Central and Southeastern United States
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
Justin I. Pullin, University of Louisiana, Monroe, LA; and L. J. Hopper Jr.

Although tornadoes are most common in the Central Plains region of the United States, the relative frequency of tornadoes affecting populated areas is higher in the Southeastern United States. Unlike the Plains where most significant tornadoes are associated with classic supercell thunderstorms triggered along dryline boundaries, tornadoes in the Southeast feature a diverse variety of storm structures and synoptic conditions that are less likely to fit the conceptual model defined by the meteorological community. This study will present a climatological comparison of tornadoes in these two regions, identifying similarities and differences and suggesting possible modifications to the conceptual model for tornadic storms in the Southeast.

Significant tornadoes (rated EF2 or higher on the Enhanced-Fujita scale) identified in Storm Data between 2007 and 2010 will be matched to their parent storms using radar data from the Gibson-Ridge level-II radar software package (GRLevel2). Each tornadic storm's structure [e.g. classic (CL), high-precipitation (HP), low-precipitation (LP), and mini (low topped) supercells, multicell, mesoscale convective system (MCS)/quasi-linear convective system (QLCS), or other) is classified, identifying the presence of classic features [e.g. rear flank downdraft (RFD), hook echo, hail cores, etc.] and whether tornadoes were rain-wrapped or not. Archived data sets will also be used to determine what kind of forcing mechanism (e.g. dryline, outflow boundary, pre-frontal trough, cold front, warm front, or other) initiated each storm. This study will benefit forecasters, researchers, and emergency managers that serve the general public, increasing awareness and public safety during hazardous weather situations.

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