Using Overshooting Top Area to Discriminate Potential for Large, Intense Tornadoes

G. R. Marion, R. J. Trapp, S. W. Nesbitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent work established strong links between storm updraft width and the tornado intensity, suggesting that updraft width could be used to gauge potential tornado intensity. It was also posited that overshooting top area (OTA) could be used as an analog for updraft width and, thus, as a means to assess potential tornado intensity in observed storms. The implementation of new high-resolution GOES-R series satellites presents a unique opportunity to investigate these findings in severe weather observations. Herein, a method using GOES-16 longwave infrared satellite data to quantify OTA of tornadic storms is explored. A comparison between observed tornado strength and OTA yields a strong correlation (R2 = 0.54). These results show the potential of these quantifications to be used with real-time observations of tornadic storms, irrespective of storm mode, seasonality, or geographic location, allowing forecasters to determine which storms pose the highest risk to life and property.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12520-12526
Number of pages7
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 16 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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