Updates on Thoughts Regarding the Mechanisms of Tornadogenesis (NCAR talk)

Jeff Duda

site owner, PhD
Staff member
Site owner
Oct 7, 2008
Denver, CO
I can't believe I didn't see this before (it's about six months old as of this posting)

The Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology (MMM) lab at NCAR has released the recording of a 1-hour seminar given by Paul Markowski at Penn State (one of the leading researchers on tornadoes, both observationally and through modeling). It's a lot to chew on, and if you are not familiar with basic kinematics and prior knowledge/understanding on the subject, you'll probably struggle a bit to follow along. I can help explain things as they come up.

If you want to skip to the takeaway messages (may not mean much without the context from the rest of the presentation), use this link: takeaway messages

Perhaps the most condensed summary messages I can include here from my take from watching:
-There are probably multiple mechanisms that result in tornadoes in storms that otherwise look nearly identical
-It's not all about what happens behind the RFD gust front boundary - naked near-surface inflow turbulence can have a major impact
-We still don't know for sure - modeling studies are becoming increasingly realistic, but still neglect some likely impactful factors (one cited example: anvil cloud shading was not factored in)
-Ultimately, random/stochastic turbulence likely plays a substantial role in getting a tornado in a supercell. What a supercell does more than anything is provide a nurturing environment for tornadoes to form rather than directly force them to occur.