In situ and radar observations of the low reflectivity ribbon in supercells during VORTEX2

Casey B. Griffin, Christopher C. Weiss, Anthony E. Reinhart, Jeffrey C. Snyder, Howard B. Bluestein, Joshua Wurman, Karen A. Kosiba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


During the second Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX2) field campaign, mobile radars observed a previously undocumented feature: the low-reflectivity ribbon (LRR). The LRR was characterized by reduced reflectivity ZH and differential reflectivity ZDR through a narrow region extending from the intersection of the hook and forward-flank regions of supercells. This study synthesizes kinematic and polarimetric radar observations with in situ measurements taken by the "StickNet" observing network. StickNet data have been used to establish that the LRR is associated with a localized minimum in pseudoequivalent potential temperature θep Pronounced drops in θep are observed by nine separate probes in three different supercell thunderstorms. Both single- and dual-Doppler analyses are used to examine the two- and three-dimensional structures of the winds within the LRR, revealing that the LRR is associated with cyclonic vertical vorticity aloft. Polarimetric radar observations are used to study the hydrometeor characteristics and the processes that cause those hydrometers to be present. Special consideration is given to the analysis of the vertical distribution of traditional and polarimetric variables, as well as the evolution of the kinematic fields retrieved by dual-Doppler analysis. The combination of thermodynamic, kinematic, and inferred microphysical observations supports a hypothesis that the LRR comprises sparse, large hail.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-327
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • In situ atmospheric observations
  • Radars/Radar observations
  • Supercells


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