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A Violently Tornadic Supercell Thunderstorm Simulation Spanning a Quarter-Trillion Grid Volumes: Computational Challenges, I/O Framework, and Visualizations of Tornadogenesis
Open AccessArticle

Horizontal Vortex Tubes near a Simulated Tornado: Three-Dimensional Structure and Kinematics

1
Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms and School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73072, USA
2
National Severe Storms Laboratory, NOAA, Norman, OK 73072, USA
3
Storm Prediction Center, NWS/NOAA, Norman, OK 73072, USA
4
Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73072, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Atmosphere 2019, 10(11), 716; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10110716
Received: 1 October 2019 / Revised: 12 November 2019 / Accepted: 13 November 2019 / Published: 16 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Simulation and Visualization of Severe Weather)
Supercell thunderstorms can produce a wide spectrum of vortical structures, ranging from midlevel mesocyclones to small-scale suction vortices within tornadoes. A less documented class of vortices are horizontally-oriented vortex tubes near and/or wrapping about tornadoes, that are observed either visually or in high-resolution Doppler radar data. In this study, an idealized numerical simulation of a tornadic supercell at 100 m grid spacing is used to analyze the three-dimensional (3D) structure and kinematics of horizontal vortices (HVs) that interact with a simulated tornado. Visualizations based on direct volume rendering aided by visual observations of HVs in a real tornado reveal the existence of a complex distribution of 3D vortex tubes surrounding the tornadic flow throughout the simulation. A distinct class of HVs originates in two key regions at the surface: around the base of the tornado and in the rear-flank downdraft (RFD) outflow and are believed to have been generated via surface friction in regions of strong horizontal near-surface wind. HVs around the tornado are produced in the tornado outer circulation and rise abruptly in its periphery, assuming a variety of complex shapes, while HVs to the south-southeast of the tornado, within the RFD outflow, ascend gradually in the updraft. View Full-Text
Keywords: horizontal vortices; tornadoes; supercell; numerical simulation; visualization horizontal vortices; tornadoes; supercell; numerical simulation; visualization
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Oliveira, M.I.; Xue, M.; Roberts, B.J.; Wicker, L.J.; Yussouf, N. Horizontal Vortex Tubes near a Simulated Tornado: Three-Dimensional Structure and Kinematics. Atmosphere 2019, 10, 716.

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