Tornadogenesis

A word that doesn’t get too much airplay around these parts, Tornadogenesis. Similar to winter storms/bombogenesis this is not a Phil Collins cover band but rather the process by which a tornado forms. It along with hurricane intensity forecasting are the two major mysteries of meteorology. Yes, there are papers that detail how the process works (click here –> http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~pmm116/pubs/2009/MR09ATMOSRES.pdf  and  http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/projects/vortex2/science/) but forecasting tornadogenesis is the challenge.

We darn near had a couple of tornadoes this afternoon. The ingredients were there…..warm, muggy air….thunderstorms as well as wind shear (wind speed and direction that changes with height) but it wasn’t an ideal (textbook) setup. The Doppler radar data from the National Weather Service in Taunton showed some rotation inside the thunderstorms today (one near Mendon & the other near Boylston in particular) but that’s not a tornado—that is a weakly rotating column of air inside the storm…the challenge is forecasting ahead of time which swirling tubes of air inside the storm will go on to produce a tornado. We as a community are close but so far no dice.

OK….so, we pulled a Neo & dodged a bullet this afternoon—are we good for the rest of the night? I think so….there are two more waves of thunderstorms that will traverse southern New England late at night but that’s usually not a time of day for severe weather in these parts. A few rumbles of thunder are possible along with some brief heavy rain but the storms will be isolated in nature. reason for the storm threat is an area of Low Pressure that will whip (please don’t watch me nae nae) a cool front through here overnight and be offshore by Wednesday Morning.

This front will shove the clouds, storms & high humidity out to sea early in the day tomorrow and sunshine is back! A nice breeze is with us for the day, helping to move that humidity out of here. More sunshine & warm temps expected for the rest of the week–great for vacationers, bad for the drought.

~JR