Characteristics of tornadic vortex signatures detected by WSR-88D radars

R. Jeffrey Trapp, E. Dewayne Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The implementation of the WSR-88D network and archival of base velocity data has afforded greater opportunities to study a variety of tornadoes via Tornadic Vortex Signature (TVS). An analysis of a sample of these TVS cases suggests a few contradistinctions to early studies. One example, and the focus of this paper, pertains to TVS formation and descent, as revealed by this sample. Indeed, in an analysis of 16 TVSs, only 50% actually exhibit the formation aloft/descent characteristic. The remaining 50% of the signatures either form somewhat uniformly over a several km vertical depth, or appear only at the lowest heights. It is hypothesized that the utility of a TVS in very short-term tornado prediction may depend on whether or not the TVS descends from aloft. In this paper, the authors introduce the data sets used, their TVS classification criteria, and results of a further stratification of TVSs according to tornadogenesis lead time, tornado intensity, maximum gate-to-gate differential velocity, and range. Classification caveats and potential sampling errors are also discussed, as are theorized relationships between the descent characteristic and the wind distribution within the parent mesocyclone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages2
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes
EventProceedings of the 1995 27th Conference on Radar Meteorology - Vail, CO, USA
Duration: Oct 9 1995Oct 13 1995


OtherProceedings of the 1995 27th Conference on Radar Meteorology
CityVail, CO, USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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