Comparing observations and simulations of the streamwise vorticity current and the forward-flank convergence boundary in a supercell storm

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The forward-flank convergence boundary (FFCB) in supercells has been well documented in many observational and modeling studies. It is theorized that the FFCB is a focal point for the baroclinic generation of vorticity. This vorticity is generally horizontal and streamwise in nature, which can then be tilted and converted to midlevel (3 6 km AGL) vertical vorticity. Previous modeling studies of supercells often show horizontal streamwise vorticity present behind the FFCB, with higher-resolution simulations resolving larger magnitudes of horizontal vorticity. Recently, studies have shown a particularly strong realization of this vorticity called the streamwise vorticity current (SVC). In this study, a tornadic supercell is simulated with the Bryan Cloud Model at 125-m horizontal grid spacing, and a coherent SVC is shown to be present. Simulated range height indicator (RHI) data show the strongest horizontal vorticity is located on the periphery of a steady-state Kelvin Helmholtz billow in the FFCB head. Additionally, a similar structure is found in two separate observed cases with the Texas Tech University Ka-band (TTUKa)mobile radar RHIs.Analyzing vorticity budgets for parcels in the vicinity of the FFCB head in the simulation, stretching of vorticity is the primary contributor to the strong streamwise vorticity, while baroclinic generation of vorticity plays a smaller role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1651-1671
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Volume149
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Cold pools
  • Density currents
  • Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities
  • Radars/Radar observations
  • Supercells
  • Vorticity

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