Thermodynamic Analysis of Supercell Rear-Flank Downdrafts from Project ANSWERS

Grzych, Matthew L.; Lee, Bruce D.; Finley, Catherine A.
January 2007
Monthly Weather Review;Jan2007, Vol. 135 Issue 1, p240
Academic Journal
Data collected during Project Analysis of the Near-Surface Wind and Environment along the Rear-flank of Supercells (ANSWERS) provided an opportunity to test recently published associations between rear-flank downdraft (RFD) thermodynamic characteristics and supercell tornadic activity on a set of 10 events from the northern plains. On average, RFDs associated with tornadic supercells had surface equivalent potential temperature and virtual potential temperature values only slightly lower than storm inflow values. RFDs associated with nontornadic supercells had mean group equivalent potential temperature and virtual potential temperature values that were colder relative to storm inflow values than their respective tornadic counterparts. Additionally, the analysis revealed that RFDs associated with tornadic supercells had higher CAPE and lower convective inhibition than the RFDs of nontornadic supercells, on average. The results of this study provide further support for the general concept that a thermodynamic delineation generally exists between the RFDs of tornadic and nontornadic supercells.


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