A set of newly documented small-scale circulations embedded in thunderstorm squall lines not only spew destructive straight-line winds, but may spawn up to 20% of all U.S. tornadoes. And the remnant circulations from large thunderstorm clusters can survive for days, triggering new storm cells. Over warm oceans, similar remnant circulations provide seed for hurricane development. Scientists expect these and other findings to help improve forecasts of damaging winds and heavy rain.
This Doppler radar image collected by the National Weather Service on the evening of June 11, 2001, shows a strong bow echo moving southeast across Wisconsin. (Image courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
This menacing cloud was part of a mesoscale convective system studied in a previous Montana field project. Such systems, dominated by strong, outflowing winds and heavy rain, were the focus of the Bow Echo and MCV Experiment.
The new results emerge from three-dimensional portraits of thunderstorms collected across the storm-tossed Midwest in a field study coordinated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in 2003. A summary will be presented on October 5 in Hyannis, Massachusetts at the American Meteorological Society’s 22nd Conference on Severe Local Storms.
Based just east of St. Louis, the Bow Echo and MCV Experiment (BAMEX) employed aircraft and ground-based storm chasers to document a wide range of storm types that prowled the Midwest from May to July 2003. Over a dozen colleges and universities joined NCAR and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for BAMEX. Key funding for the $4 million study was provided by the National Science Foundation, NCARs primary sponsor.
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