May 22nd, 2011. A powerful tornado cut a mile-wide swath through Joplin, Missouri. It was the costliest tornado disaster in history, with insured losses close to two billion dollars. It was also one of the deadliest, with 161 lives lost… and one thousand injured. What did scientists learn when they peered into the realm of this SuperTornado?
Making of Super Tornado:
Dr. Leigh Orf, a scientist from the University of Wisconsin, tells us how he designed the most detailed supercomputer models of a tornadic thunderstorm ever produced.
Joplin, MO Destruction Path
This image shows GIS data on tree fall patterns and structural damage provided by Frank Lombardo. Dr. Lombardo is an Assistant Professor at UIUC specializing in extreme wind hazards and their effect on structures. Using the GIS data to analyze the location and placement of fallen trees, as well as first-hand insight gained from being on the ground immediately after the event, he was able to determine the relative wind speeds during the storm.
His faculty webpage, with information and links on this event and others can be found at http://cee.illinois.edu/faculty/franklombardo
El Reno Volumetric Simulation
This visualization of Leigh Orf’s simulation of the tornado that hit El Reno on May 24, 2011. AVL has visualized precipitation, specifically in the forms of cloud water, cloud ice, and cloud rain. This was an attempt at a realistic treatment of the data, since these variables are what would be visible to the naked eye when watching the actual tornado. To put the size of the tornado into perspective, the ground floor is a grid made up of 1km squares which move at the speed of the tornado.
El Reno Radar Simulation
This is another view of the May 24, 2011 El Reno tornado simulation by Leigh Orf. This visualization is looking at reflectivity in a slice near the base of the tornado.
Base reflectivity is a type of radar image, so a recognizable rainbow-esque color map was used.
Joplin, 2011 Volume Tubes
Streamlines are driven by a wind field parameter in a computational scientific model of the deadly 2011 Joplin, Missouri tornado. Derived from data, blue streamers falling toward the ground indicate the tornado’s rear flank downdraft, while the quickly rising orange lines constitute the updraft. These geometric features are key elements in the formation of tornadoes.