I was reading an interesting and topical conference paper today entitled “Tornado warning services for misoscale circulations in quasilinear convective systems,” by Kevin Scharfenberg and collaborators, that appeared at the 25th Conference on Severe Local Storms this past October. Link below…
In the article, “the authors question whether tornado warnings are appropriate for misoscale circulations due to the large percentage that will quickly dissipate, the unpredictable nature of the few that will strengthen, and the expected brief remaining life span of any detected strong misocyclones relative to the warning dissemination cycle.” It is a question that has relevance to our project. I suspect that many of the tornadoes that we see in HSLC environments, especially the ones associated with features such as the “Broken-S”, are related to these “misocyclones” that grow in size and strength enough to produce damage.
I think we can all agree that tornadoes in HSLC environments strain the limits of detectability and predictability, yet we are constrained by a system of performance management that rewards or punishes the success or failure of a warning for a weak EF-0 the same as a devastating EF-4. Until computation of statistics changes for tornado warning verification relative to the strength/duration of the tornado (and there is no indication it will), we need to put forth our best effort to detect and warn for the “misocyclone” tornadoes. Whether or not we meet our GPRA goals depends on it.
I am not trying to debate the merits of our current system of performance management. What I am suggesting is that perhaps one of the outcomes from the CSTAR project could be some measure of the predictability of tornadoes in HSLC environments with enough lead time to meet the GPRA goal. Perhaps an attempt could be made to quantify or draw the line between the tornadoes that are large enough to detect and warn with enough lead time versus the ones that aren’t. Can we define the “State of the Science” for predictability of HSLC tornadoes in the Southeast? Once that question is answered, it can enter into a discussion about policy.
Perhaps we could discuss this during our next conference call, which is set for Thursday 24 March at 10 am.