Investigation of near-storm environments for Tornado events and warnings

Alexandra K. Anderson-Frey, Yvette P. Richardson, Andrew R. Dean, Richard L. Thompson, Bryan T. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


In this study, a 13-yr climatology of tornado event and warning environments, including metrics of tornado intensity and storm morphology, is investigated with particular focus on the environments of tornadoes associated with quasi-linear convective systems and right-moving supercells. The regions of the environmental parameter space having poor warning performance in various geographical locations, as well as during different times of the day and year, are highlighted. Kernel density estimations of the tornado report and warning environments are produced for two parameter spaces: mixed-layer convective available potential energy (MLCAPE) versus 0-6-km vector shear magnitude (SHR6), and mixed-layer lifting condensation level (MLLCL) versus 0-1-km storm-relative helicity (SRH1). The warning performance is best in environments characteristic of severe convection (i.e., environments featuring large values of MLCAPE and SHR6). For tornadoes occurring during the early evening transition period, MLCAPE is maximized, MLLCL heights decrease, SHR6 and SRH1 increase, tornadoes rated as 2 or greater on the enhanced Fujita scale (EF2+) are most common, the probability of detection is relatively high, and false alarm ratios are relatively low. Overall, the parameter-space distributions of warnings and events are similar; at least in a broad sense, there is no systematic problem with forecasting that explains the high overall false alarm ratio, which instead seems to stem from the inability to know which storms in a given environment will be tornadic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1771-1790
Number of pages20
JournalWeather and Forecasting
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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