NEW visualization of TORNADO SENSOR via @chasinspin for 10Hz GPS track in EF4 tornado from launch south of Lawrence, KS through 30 mile track. NOTE rotational structure below “kink” at ~11,000 feet, then pure tilted vortex aloft! GPS velocities were as high as 180-190 mph during two periods of the flight: below 11,000 feet as the sensor was rotating around the wedge crossing Hwy 59 and also high above Linwood, KS above 35,000 feet, likely within the tilted vortex at peak intensity.
What is really striking to us about this high-resolution GPS track is how the tornado exhibits a structure very similar to suction vortices but on a much larger scale, with a kink just above the ground (Fiedler, 2007) and vertical orientation of the vortex to the ground; but tilted, more laminar vortex above the kink. This kink indicates the influence of Earth’s friction over the vortex, and seems to be located at 10-11,000 feet with this mile-wide, powerful tornado before tilting upward. Visually, I’ve noticed this kink to be much closer to the ground with smaller, weaker tornado vortices with even a pure horizontal orientation of the vortex below cloud-base. A powerful tornado like the Linwood, KS EF4 seems to exhibit a very deep friction layer, with kink above 10,000 feet. In theory, in concert with the live streamed velocity of the sensor, we could even assess the tornado strength in real-time after launching rockets into the vortex. But, we have so many more tornadoes to launch into and sample. I have a feeling this exercise will become routine before we know it.
THANK YOU again Matthew DuBois and Jerry Belk for miraculously finding the rocket sensor in Leavenworth, and of course our FB supporters for making this field research possible.