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Open AccessArticle

A Statistical Investigation of Mesoscale Precursors of Significant Tornadoes: The Italian Case Study

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Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), 201, av. du President Kennedy, Montreal, QB H2X 3Y7, Canada
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Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali e Biologiche, Università del Salento, via per Monteroni 165, 73100 Lecce, Italy
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CMCC–Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change, 73100 Lecce, Italy
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ISAC-CNR, Istituto di Scienze dell’Atmosfera e del Clima-Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, corso Stati Uniti 4, 35127 Padua, Italy
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Dipartimento di Matematica e Fisica, Università del Salento, Provinciale Lecce-Arnesano, P.O. Box 193, 73100 Lecce, Italy
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Atmosphere 2020, 11(3), 301; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11030301
Received: 2 February 2020 / Revised: 13 March 2020 / Accepted: 16 March 2020 / Published: 20 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Meteorology)
In this study, mesoscale environments associated with 57 significant tornadoes occurring over Italy in the period 2000–2018 are analyzed. The role of the vertical Wind Shear in the lower and middle troposphere, in terms of low-level shear (LLS) and deep-level shear (DLS), and of the convective available potential energy (CAPE) as possible precursors of significant tornadoes is statistically investigated. Wind shear and CAPE data are extracted from the ERA-5 and ERA-Interim reanalyses. Overall, the study indicates that: (a) values of these variables in the two uppermost quartiles of their statistical distribution significantly increases the probability of tornado occurrences; (b) the probability increases for increasing values of LLS and DLS, and (c) is maximum when either wind shear or CAPE are large. These conclusions hold for both the reanalysis datasets and do not depend upon the season and/or the considered area. With the possible exception of weak tornadoes, which are not included in our study, our results show that large wind shear, in the presence of medium-to-high values of CAPE, are reliable precursors of tornadoes. View Full-Text
Keywords: tornado; precursors; wind shear; convective available potential energy; statistical analysis tornado; precursors; wind shear; convective available potential energy; statistical analysis
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Ingrosso, R.; Lionello, P.; Miglietta, M.M.; Salvadori, G. A Statistical Investigation of Mesoscale Precursors of Significant Tornadoes: The Italian Case Study. Atmosphere 2020, 11, 301.

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