National Weather Center Colloquium

How well can we explain why some supercells make tornadoes and others do not?

Dr. Matthew Parker

Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences,
North Carolina State University

29 September 2015, 4:00 PM

National Weather Center, Room 1313
120 David L. Boren Blvd.
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK

It has long been known that most significant tornadoes are produced by supercell thunderstorms, and yet the majority of supercells are non-tornadic. The environmental soundings near tornadic vs. non-tornadic supercells from VORTEX2 reveal a number of discrepancies that may be physically meaningful. A simulated supercell in the tornadic environment produces intense tornado-like vortices, while a simulated supercell in the non-tornadic environment fails to do so, even though this environment would still be viewed as favorable for tornadoes by conventional operational indices. This talk will describe the distinctive elements of the composite VORTEX2 tornado environments, the character of the simulated supercells produced within the tornadic vs. non-tornadic composite environments, and a hierarchy of idealized studies designed to address the question: what are the fundamental environmental requirements for producing large surface vorticity in a storm?.
Dr. Parker received his B.S. degree from Valparaiso University in 1996 and his Ph.D. degree from Colorado State University in 2002. Since then, he spent 3 years on the faculty at the University of Nebraska followed by 10 years at North Carolina State University, where he is now a Professor. His research and teaching interests include the dynamics and numerical modeling of severe storms, especially squall lines, supercells, and tornadoes. He has participated, in a variety of scientific and coordination roles, in field projects such as VORTEX2, PECAN, and VORTEX-Southeast, and serves as an editor for the AMS Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences.

National Weather Center Colloquium Seminar Series website