S72 Case Study of Thunderstorm Rotation Patterns in a Tornadic and Non-Tornadic Supercell near Scranton, PA on Feb 25 2017

Sunday, 7 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 5 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Michael Hosek, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY

On February 25th, 2017, an EF-2 tornado touched down in Luzerne County, PA near Scranton, damaging 30 homes and knocking down over 1000 trees. While tornadoes of that magnitude are not unheard of in this region, they are not common, and especially not during the cold season. In this case, while modest convective available potential energy (CAPE) values existed further south over Maryland and southern PA, there was minimal CAPE near where the tornado touched down in northeast PA (though shear, both at the surface and aloft, was large). Another interesting aspect of this event was that a second rotating supercell formed just behind the tornadic one, and did not produce a tornado during its lifetime. This provided a unique opportunity to study the rotational structures of a tornadic vs. non-tornadic rotating storm in similar environments, leading to insights that could help forecasters issue more accurate warnings as well as providing potential hypotheses on the structure of the updrafts associated with tornadic vs. non-tornadic storms. Specifically, it is hypothesized that differences in the mid-tropospheric divergent component of the rotation within the updrafts associated with the two storms may have been indicators of tornadic potential.
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