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The Pretornadic Phase of the Goshen County, Wyoming, Supercell of 5 June 2009 Intercepted by VORTEX2. Part I: Evolution of Kinematic and Surface Thermodynamic Fields


The authors analyze the pretornadic phase (2100–2148 UTC; tornadogenesis began at 2152 UTC) of the Goshen County, Wyoming, supercell of 5 June 2009 intercepted by the second Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX2). The analysis relies on radar data from the Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) in Cheyenne, Wyoming (KCYS), and a pair of Doppler-on-Wheels (DOW) radars, mobile mesonet observations, and mobile sounding observations.

The storm resembles supercells that have been observed in the past. For example, it develops a couplet of counter-rotating vortices that straddle the hook echo within the rear-flank outflow and are joined by arching vortex lines, with the cyclonic vortex becoming increasingly dominant in the time leading up to tornadogenesis. The outflow in the hook echo region, where sampled, has relatively small virtual potential temperature θυ deficits during this stage of evolution. A few kilometers upstream (north) of the location of maximum vertical vorticity, θυ is no more than 3 K colder than the warmest θυ readings in the inflow of the storm. Forward trajectories originating in the outflow within and around the low-level mesocyclone rise rapidly, implying that the upward-directed perturbation pressure gradient force exceeds the negative buoyancy.

Low-level rotation intensifies in the 2142–2148 UTC period. The intensification is preceded by the formation of a descending reflectivity core (DRC), similar to others that have been documented in some supercells recently. The DRC is associated with a rapid increase in the vertical vorticity and circulation of the low-level mesocyclone.

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