2.1A Analysis of the Observed Niles to Chapman, Kansas EF-4 Tornado on May 25, 2016

Tuesday, 24 January 2017: 10:30 AM
Ballroom 6E (Washington State Convention Center )
Thomas Dolan, Independent Geographer, Rocklin, CA

Handout (4.7 MB)

Tornadoes play a significant role in the weather of the United States and on May 25, 2016 a long track EF-4 Tornado came down next to our field observation location in Niles, Kansas.  The tornado intensifies rapidly and travels east on its 26-mile path narrowly passing just south of Chapman, Kansas.  This tornado case study caused no loss of life or severe injuries but did include significant structure damage.  The pre-storm environment is observed prior to the long track tornado.  The initial observed phases of the storm include a well-defined wall cloud, a brief EF-0 tornado, and a thin spiraling funnel.  3D analysis is performed from the available Doppler radar data using the Topeka National Weather Service radar.  The tornado moved towards the radar providing ideal full radar coverage for performing the tornado analysis of the event capturing both the low ground and higher elevations of this tornadic storm.  Damage photos taken following the tornado are used to compare with the 3D radar data and the observed tornado phases.  The photos, videos and Doppler radar data are assembled to demonstrate the life cycle morphology of this tornadic event.

The town of Chapman, Kansas was placed on a "tornado emergency" by the National Weather service as the tornado approach from the west.  Video of the tornado approaching is recorded along with the virtual ghost town as sirens are running and no residents can be seen.  This was evidence of the effectiveness of the tornado emergency as declared by the NWS.   As the tornado neared the town it past just south of town and can be seen rapidly expanding in size.  The radar data shows that the tornado was collapsing from a tight cyclonic rotation going up 50,000 feet to collapsing down to a broad cyclonic circulation only going up 20,000 feet prior to its final dissipation once it passed by our location.  This tornadic thunderstorm was an ideal case of using the right communication by the NWS and getting a perfect community response with residents taking cover.

Supplementary URL: outdoorstorms.com

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner