1191 Determining Favorable Atmospheric Conditions for Waterspout Development in South Florida

Wednesday, 10 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Ian R. Lee, NOAA, White Lake, MI; and S. Konarik

Handout (501.2 kB)

Waterspouts are a frequent occurrence across the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean waters within 60 nautical miles of the South Florida coast throughout the year. Occasionally, these features make landfall and cause damage to coastal areas across the region. The lack of identifiable radar signatures combined with typically rapid waterspout development makes these features exceptionally challenging to predict from a warning perspective. Through the years, various regional studies have been performed including a basic waterspout risk calculator developed at NWS Miami. The purpose of this study is to analyze in more detail the thermodynamic and kinematic profiles favorable for waterspout development across the South Florida waters. This research allows for expansion and improvement of the aforementioned waterspout risk calculator, and provides forecasters a better understanding of which environments are typically favorable for waterspout genesis.

This study assessed sounding profiles corresponding to 353 waterspout reports, beginning in 2003. To determine which atmospheric variables, and their respective ranges, were most conducive to waterspout genesis, we created box and whisker plots based on the results of a statistical principal component analysis. We used reanalysis data to create composite synoptic plots, and obtained archived sea-surface temperatures to modify the sounding data based on the near-surface marine environment. Using this information, the authors recommend changes to the way NWS Miami predicts favorable atmospheric conditions for the production of waterspouts.

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