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December 23, 2014 at 9:18 am

Oklahoman Quotes Houser on New Model 2011 Tornado

Dr. Jana Houser, Assistant Professor of Geography, was featured in an Oklahoman article on a tornado model based on storm that struck Oklahoma City in 2011.

An EF5 tornado that tore through the Oklahoma City area on May 24, 2011, cost the metro area several lives and left many residents without homes.
But now, researchers hope the storm can offer clues about what makes certain tornadoes so powerful and, eventually, help save lives when they arise.

Leigh Orf, a meteorology professor at Central Michigan University, recently created a graphical tornado simulation based on data from Oklahoma’s May 24 EF5 tornado.

Orf said the simulation could help climate scientists understand how powerful, long-track storms develop…. We grew a storm in that environment, and out came this beautiful super cell that produced this devastating tornado, similar to the one that occurred,” Orf said.

Jana Houser, an atmospheric scientist at Ohio University, said the simulated tornado had several similarities to the one that actually struck the Oklahoma City area. Houser was a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma in 2008-13 and did her doctoral dissertation research on the tornado.

Houser said one of the similarities was the presence of a so-called horizontal vortex, a smaller funnel cloud that appears to form a kind of tentacle to the main tornado.Simulations like this one can be useful because they help reinforce what researchers can tell from atmospheric data, Houser said. When a simulation produces a tornado similar to the one that actually occurred, it adds to the validity of the atmospheric data that was used to produce the simulation, she said.

Simulations also can help scientists get an idea of certain factors like temperature and moisture that are difficult to measure when a tornado is on the ground, she said.

Read the entire article.


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