Tornado damage estimation using polarimetric radar

David J. Bodine, Matthew R. Kumjian, Robert D. Palmer, Pamela L. Heinselman, Alexander V. Ryzhkov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


This study investigates the use of tornadic debris signature (TDS) parameters to estimate tornado damage severity using Norman, Oklahoma (KOUN), polarimetric radar data (polarimetric version of the Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler radar). Several TDS parameters are examined, including parameters based on the 10th or 90th percentiles of polarimetric variables (lowest tilt TDS parameters) and TDS parameters based on the TDS volumetric coverage (spatial TDS parameters). Two highly detailed National Weather Service (NWS) damage surveys are compared to TDS parameters. The TDS parameters tend to be correlated with the enhanced Fujita scale (EF) rating. The 90th percentile reflectivity, TDS height, and TDS volume increase during tornado intensification and decrease during tornado dissipation. For 14 tornado cases, the maximum or minimum TDS parameter values are compared to the tornado's EF rating. For tornadoes with a higher EF rating, higher maximum values of the 90th percentile ZHH, TDS height, and volume, as well as lower minimum values of 10th percentile ρHV and ZDR, are observed. Maxima in spatial TDS parameters are observed after periods of severe, widespread tornado damage for violent tornadoes. This paper discusses how forecasters could use TDS parameters to obtain near-real-time information about tornado damage severity and spatial extent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-158
Number of pages20
JournalWeather and Forecasting
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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