Some observations of rotating updrafts in a low-buoyancy, highly sheared environment

Paul M. Markowski, Jerry M. Straka

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24 Scopus citations


The authors document some of the unusual rotating updrafts (one of which produced a tornado) that developed over central Oklahoma on 28 October 1998 in an environment of strong (1.8 × 10-2 s-1) low-level (0-3 km) mean shear. The maximum convective available potential energy (including virtual temperature effects) a "storm" could have realized was approximately 300 J kg-1; however, most of the storms probably realized less than 100 J kg-1. Average (maximum) parcel virtual temperature excesses were estimated to be 0.4-1.2 K (1.8-2.8 K). Echo tops were measured from less than 5 km to 11.2 km above ground level (AGL), although visual observations and radar data suggested echoes that extended above approximately 5-6 km AGL were not associated with significantly buoyant cloud elements. Radar characteristics of many of the storms were similar to supercell storms (e.g., weak echo regions, echo overhang, velocity couplets, hook echoes), as were some of the visual characteristics near cloud base (e.g., wall clouds, rain-free bases, and striated low-level updrafts); however, visual characteristics in middle to upper portions of the storms were not characteristic of typical severe storms, supercells, or previously documented "minisupercells." Furthermore, the buoyancy realized by the updrafts was estimated to be considerably less than environments associated with the aforementioned minisupercells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-461
Number of pages13
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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