Visual Representation of the Joplin Tornadic Storm
TimeTuesday, July 246:30pm - 8:30pm
DescriptionSimulations of the Joplin, MO severe storm and tornado were carried out at the University of Illinois using the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF). The simulations addressed the rapid intensification of the storm prior to tornado formation, and the possible role of storm interaction. On May 22, 2011 west of Joplin, this interaction took the form of weaker thunderstorm cells approaching and merging with a stronger storm which rapidly intensified - producing the devastating EF-5 tornado on this day. From the simulations, it was determined that the storm interaction intensified the mature storm - but that a distinct second mode of tornado formation was possible if the approaching storms were eliminated entirely. The ability to modify the environment in which storms develop is one key advantage of simulation studies in addressing scientific hypotheses. To better understand these simulations, custom visualization software is used to investigate the unique spatial and temporal relationships between a variety of variables that led to this event.