Climatology of tropical cyclone tornadoes in China from 2006 to 2018

  • Lanqiang Bai
  • Zhiyong MengEmail author
  • Kenta Sueki
  • Guixing Chen
  • Ruilin Zhou
Research Paper Special Topic: Weather characteristics and climate anomalies of the TC track, heavy rainfall and tornadoes in 2018


We surveyed the occurrence of tropical cyclone (TC) tornadoes in China from 2006 to 2018. There were 64 cataloged TC tornadoes, with an average of five per year. About one-third of the landfalling TCs in China were tornadic. Consistent with previous studies, TC tornadoes preferentially formed in the afternoon shortly before and within about 36 h after landfall of the TCs. These tornadoes mainly occurred in coastal areas with relatively flat terrains. The maximum number of TC tornadoes occurred in Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces. Most of the TC tornadoes were spawned within 500 km of the TC center. Two notable characteristics were found: (1) TC tornadoes in China mainly occurred in the northeast quadrant (Earth-relative coordinates) rather than the right-front quadrant (TC motion-relative coordinates) of the parent TC circulation; and (2) most tornadoes were produced by TCs with a relatively weak intensity (tropical depressions/storms), in contrast with the United States where most tornadoes are associated with stronger TCs. Further analyses showed that TC tornadoes in China tend to be spawned in an environment with large low-level storm relative helicity and large convective available potential energy taking entrainment effects into account. TC tornadoes were particularly active in 2018, with 24 reported tornadoes accounting for 37.5% of the total surveyed samples. The first recorded tornado outbreak in the modern history of China occurred in the envelope of TC Yagi (2018), in which 11 tornadoes were reported in association with significant midlevel intrusions of dry air and the interaction of Yagi with an approaching midlatitude midlevel trough.


Tornadoes Tropical cyclones Historical statistics China 


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We thank the numerous people who shared their valuable tornado information (online or privately), including photographs and videos of tornadoes. Special thanks are given to Jiayi Chen from Peking University for providing the tornado database (Chen et al., 2018) and to Zhengzhao Johnny Luo from the City University of New York for helpful comments. We also acknowledge Lijun Yan, Zhaoming Li and Kanglong Cai from the Foshan Tornado Research Center for sharing some of the information on tornadoes. Additional gratitude is extended to the three anonymous reviewers who have greatly aided in the improvement of this work. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41875051, 41425018 & 41775094), the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (Grant No. 2019M653146) and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science KAKENHI (Grant No. JP18H01277).


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lanqiang Bai
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Zhiyong Meng
    • 2
    Email author
  • Kenta Sueki
    • 4
  • Guixing Chen
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ruilin Zhou
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Atmospheric Sciences, and Guangdong Province Key Laboratory for Climate Change and Natural Disaster StudiesSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Laboratory for Climate and Ocean-Atmosphere Studies, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, School of PhysicsPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Zhuhai)ZhuhaiChina
  4. 4.RIKEN Center for Computational ScienceKobeJapan

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