Rapid-Scan and Polarimetric Radar Observations of the Dissipation of a Violent Tornado on 9 May 2016 near Sulphur, Oklahoma
Rapid-scan polarimetric data analysis of the dissipation of a likely violent supercell tornado that struck near Sulphur, Oklahoma, on 9 May 2016 is presented. The Rapid X-band Polarimetric Radar was used to obtain data of the tornado at the end of its mature phase and during its entire dissipation phase. The analysis is presented in two parts: dissipation characteristics of the tornadic vortex signature (TVS) associated with the tornado and storm-scale polarimetric features that may be related to processes contributing to tornado dissipation. The TVS exhibited near-surface radial velocities exceeding 100 m s−1 multiple times at the end of its mature phase, and then underwent a two-phased dissipation. Initially, decreases in near-surface intensity occurred rapidly over a ~5-min period followed by a slower decline in intensity that lasted an additional ~12 min. The dissipation of the TVS in time and height in the lowest 2 km above radar level and oscillatory storm-relative motion of the TVS also are discussed. Using polarimetric data, a well-defined low reflectivity ribbon is investigated for its vertical development, evolution, and relationship to the large tornadic debris signature (TDS) collocated with the TVS. The progression of the TDS during dissipation also is discussed with a focus on the presence of several bands of reduced copolar correlation coefficient that extend away from the main TDS and the eventual erosion of the TDS as the tornado dissipated. Finally, TVS and polarimetric data are combined to argue for the importance of a possible internal rear-flank downdraft momentum surge in contributing to the initial rapid dissipation of the tornado.