Near-Ground Pressure and Wind Measurements in Tornadoes*

Karstens, Christopher D.; Samaras, Timothy M.; Lee, Bruce D.; Gallus, William A.; Finley, Catherine A.
July 2010
Monthly Weather Review;Jul2010, Vol. 138 Issue 7, p2570
Academic Journal
Since the spring of 2002, tornadoes were sampled on nine occasions using Hardened In-Situ Tornado Pressure Recorder probes, video probes, and mobile mesonet instrumentation. This study describes pressure and, in some cases, velocity data obtained from these intercepts. In seven of these events, the intercepted tornadoes were within the radar-indicated or visually identified location of the supercell low-level mesocyclone. In the remaining two cases, the intercepted tornadoes occurred outside of this region and were located along either the rear-flank downdraft gust front or an internal rear-flank downdraft surge boundary. The pressure traces, sometimes augmented with videography, suggest that vortex structures ranged from single-cell to two-cell, quite similar to the swirl-ratio-dependent continuum of vortex structures shown in laboratory and numerical simulations. Although near-ground tornado observations are quite rare, the number of contemporary tornado measurements now available permits a comparative range of observed pressure deficits for a wide variety of tornado sizes and intensities to be presented.


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