October 1, 2017.
On May 25, 2016 and July 7, 2016, two individual tornadic storms occurred near Chapman, Kansas and Eureka, Kansas. Neither of these tornadic storms was forecast to occur by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Storm Prediction Center (SPC). In this research project, data from several online sources were analyzed to identify the atmospheric conditions around the times and near the concerned areas where the tornadoes spawned. Identifying and understanding the causes of these tornadoes will help future meteorologists better predict possible tornadoes in the future. Data was obtained from meteorological maps of surface pressure, temperature, dew-point temperature, wind speed and direction at the surface and aloft, and atmospheric soundings from nearby weather balloon locations. Areas of low pressure, cold fronts, warm fronts, dry-lines were identified by the process of analyzing the meteorological maps. Other atmospheric conditions that lead to the organization of the thunderstorms related to the tornadoes were also analyzed; namely, instability, vertical wind shear, moisture, and causes for lifting of air. Afterwards the focus was to determine the severity of the thunderstorms and how the tornadoes formed; doing so allows for the tornadic environments to be analyzed.
For the Chapman tornado, the interactions of a new storm that initiated on the western flank of the primary storm likely played a role in the intensity of the tornado at various points along its path. For the Eureka tornado, interactions with the surface warm front likely provided the storm with necessary boundary-layer vorticity to support the tornado.
Andrew Schwartz and Scott Landolt
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program under Grant # 1340110. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The research was also made possible by the California State University STEM Teacher and Researcher Program, in partnership with Chevron (www.chevron.com), the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (www.marinesanctuary.org) and National Center for Atmospheric Research.