Pulsing interial oscillation, supercell storms, and surface mesonetwork data

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The pulsing inertial oscillation (PIO) model is a nonlinear, time-dependent, translating vortex solution of the inviscid, compressible fluid dynamic equations in the middle troposphere. The translation of this vortex during a pulse is strikingly similar to that of a supercell storm – a rotating thunderstorm that can generate tornadoes and hail. Two studies were performed to test the hypothesis that some supercell storms are manifestations of a PIO pulse. The first study applied the model to an intense interior draft whose buoyancy was bounded by a temperature excess of ± 12 K. The peak updraft speed achieved was 41.5 m s−1 and the peak Rossby number was 92.9. The study also pointed to an advanced concept for attaining higher values. The second study applied the PIO model to a supercell storm as a whole and succeeded in replicating its bulk properties, such as mesocylonic circulation, net mass and moisture influxes, and time track. This study also identified a critical feature of the PIO model that could be tested against storm data: The average vertical draft is downward before the turn in the storm track and upward afterwards. In the conventional theory, the average vertical draft is upward from storm inception until dissipation. These differing draft predictions were compared with the best available data, which are surface mesonetwork data. These data were found to support the PIO model. However, surface data alone are not conclusive, and further measurements are warranted.

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