Cold pool characteristics of tornadic quasi-linear convective systems and other convective modes observed during VORTEX-SE

Jessica M. McDonald, Christopher C. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Many numerical studies have focused on the importance of baroclinically generated vorticity at the edge of cold pools in supercellular tornadogenesis, and observational work has consistently found that strongly tornadic supercells have less dense, more buoyant cold pools than weakly or nontornadic supercells. However, there is a lack of observational studies that consider potential relationships between cold pool characteristics (e.g., density) and tornado productionwithin linear systems, such as mesoscale convective system (MCS) or quasi-linear convective system (QLCS) events. This study presents two tornadic QLCS events that were observed during the Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment-Southeast (VORTEX-SE) field project in 2016 and 2017. Supercell and hybrid modes were also observed and compared to the observations from the linear systems. No obvious differences in the thermodynamic deficits of the tornadic and nontornadic samples were found, likely due to the weakness of the produced tornadoes (≤EF1) and the small tornadic sample size (five cold pools). Comparison across storm mode did find some differences, with QLCS cold pools producing larger virtual potential temperature and psuedoequivalent potential temperature deficits than those observed in supercells. More importantly, our findings suggest that, in a QLCS, the magnitude of density gradients along the leading edge of the cold pool may be related to tornadogenesis by virtue of the implied baroclinic vorticity generation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-840
Number of pages20
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Volume149
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Baroclinic flows
  • Cold pools
  • Convective storms/systems
  • Severe storms
  • Squall lines
  • Surface observations
  • Tornadogenesis
  • Updrafts/downdrafts

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