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How to Predict Tornadoes?
May 31, 2007 14:01

Scientists from Russian HydroMetCentr (chief weather predicting institution in the country) tell what they do to develop technique for predicting these natural disasters, which doesn’t exist yet.

Destructive tornadoes are often called “natural weapons of mass destruction”, since they sweep everything off their way, having no mercy for both living and non-living beings. We regret to admit that neither Russian, nor foreign scientists have a reliable method for predicting tornadoes and twisters well in advance – in 36 or ever in 12 hours before it happens. A certain situation often greatly depends on weather forecaster’s experience and intuition.

Scientists know that tornadoes form from cumulo-nimbus clouds, having mainly vertical orientation, under conditions of powerful convection. Nevertheless, forecasters almost never give storm warnings about such destructive events, because twisters tend to happen in the same places very rarely, even if convection is quite active.

Russian weather researchers have several stages of predicting where twisters and tornadoes are likely to appear. First stage is finding areas with powerful flaws, where wind speeds reach 20 ms and more, which is done 12, 24 and 36 hours in advance. For this purpose scientists use online method for predicting strong winds’ velocities, based upon considering extensive atmospheric parameters. Said technique, developed by weather professionals, is based on statistical analysis of hydrodynamic models of short-term weather predictions and succeeds in various territories of Russia and Ukraine. Briefly speaking, the map is covered with equal probability lines, which show areas, where dangerous winds can be expected.


When experts predict extremely high wind speeds, exceeding 35 ms, there’s almost 100% probability of twisters and tornadoes appearing in this area, the authors of the research say. Meteorological think-tank suggests using an expert system for twister forecast amendment in given areas. Mentioned system relies upon large amount of well-known long-term qualitative characteristics of dangerous meteorological situations and atmospheric parameters, common for twister formation.

Said parameters and characteristics form a knowledge base, consisting of wide range of rules for tornado formation under various conditions with given confidence factor, which is calculated every time, when addition information arrives. Meteorologists claim that the system, described above, is capable for self-learning.

Twister and tornado knowledge base wouldn’t have been full without information about clouds, which form said cataclysms. To get this important information, scientists use images of clouds, broadcasted by satellites, orbiting our planet. Satellite images of clouds, which preceded tornadoes in various regions, are valuable examples, which scientists from Russian HydroMetCentr use to explain how to recognize hazardous natural phenomenon.

    Russian Science News
Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian scientists Russian nature Russian weather   

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