Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

The College Park, Maryland Tornado of 24 September 2001

Version 1 : Received: 28 May 2019 / Approved: 30 May 2019 / Online: 30 May 2019 (08:50:59 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 13 July 2019 / Approved: 15 July 2019 / Online: 15 July 2019 (12:07:07 CEST)
Version 3 : Received: 23 September 2019 / Approved: 24 September 2019 / Online: 24 September 2019 (11:06:33 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Pryor, K.L.; Wawrzyniak, T.; Zhang, D.-L. The College Park, Maryland, Tornado of 24 September 2001. Geosciences 2019, 9, 452. Pryor, K.L.; Wawrzyniak, T.; Zhang, D.-L. The College Park, Maryland, Tornado of 24 September 2001. Geosciences 2019, 9, 452.


The 24 September 2001 College Park, Maryland, tornado was a long-tracked and violent tornado that passed within a close range of two Doppler radars. It was the third in a series of three tornadoes associated with a supercell storm that developed in Stafford County, Virginia, and initiated 3 - 4 km southwest of College Park and dissipated near Columbia, Howard County. The supercell tracked approximately 120 km and lasted for about 126 minutes. This study presents a synoptic and mesoscale overview of favorable conditions and forcing mechanisms that resulted in the severe convective outbreak associated with the College Park tornado. Results show many critical elements of the tornadic event, including a negative-tilted upper-level trough over the Ohio Valley, a jet stream with moderate vertical shear, a warm, moist tongue of the air associated with strong southerly flow over south-central Maryland and Virginia, and significantly increased convective available potential energy during the late afternoon hours. Satellite imagery reveals banded convective morphology with high cloud tops associated with the supercell that produced the College Park tornado. Operational WSR-88D data exhibits a high reflectivity “debris ball” or tornadic debris signature (TDS) within the hook echo, the evolution of the parent storm from a supercell structure to a bow echo, and a tornado cyclone signature (TCS). Many of the mesoscale environmental features could be captured by contemporary numerical model analyses. This study concludes with a discussion of the effectiveness of the coordinated use of satellite and radar observations in the operational environment of nowcasting severe convection.


Severe Thunderstorms, Tornadoes


Environmental and Earth Sciences, Atmospheric Science and Meteorology

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