Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 162, Issue 2, pp 319–339 | Cite as

Experimental Study on Effects of Ground Roughness on Flow Characteristics of Tornado-Like Vortices

Research Article


The three-dimensional wind velocity and dynamic pressure for stationary tornado-like vortices that developed over ground of different roughness categories were investigated to clarify the effects of ground roughness. Measurements were performed for various roughness categories and two swirl ratios. Variations of the vertical and horizontal distributions of velocity and pressure with roughness are presented, with the results showing that the tangential, radial, and axial velocity components increase inside the vortex core near the ground under rough surface conditions. Meanwhile, clearly decreased tangential components are found outside the core radius at low elevations. The high axial velocity inside the vortex core over rough ground surface indicates that roughness produces an effect similar to a reduced swirl ratio. In addition, the pressure drop accompanying a tornado is more significant at elevations closer to the ground under rough compared with smooth surface conditions. We show that the variations of the flow characteristics with roughness are dependent on the vortex-generating mechanism, indicating the need for appropriate modelling of tornado-like vortices.


Surface roughness Swirl ratio Tornado-like vortices Wind profiles 



The authors would like to thank the reviewers, whose constructive comments led to an improved paper. This research was funded in part by Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) grant no. 51478358 and Research Foundation of State Key Laboratory of Disaster Reduction in Civil Engineering grant no. SLDRCE14-A-01. The first author greatly appreciates the Double-PhD Degree Program between Tongji University in China and Clemson University in the USA.


  1. Bienkiewicz B, Dudhia P (1993) Physical modelling of tornado-like flow and tornado effects on building loading. In: Proceedings of the seventh US National Conference on wind engineering, pp 95–104Google Scholar
  2. Cao S, Wang J (2013) Statistical summary and case studies of strong wind damage in China. J Disaster Res 8(6):1096–1102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cao S, Wang J, Cao J, Zhao L, Chen X (2015) Experimental study of wind pressures acting on a cooling tower exposed to stationary tornado-like vortices. J Wind Eng Ind Aerodyn 145:75–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chang CC (1971) Tornado wind effects on buildings and structures with laboratory simulation. Proceedings of the third international conference on wind effects on buildings and structures. Tokyo, Japan, pp 231–240Google Scholar
  5. Church CR, Snow JT, Baker GL, Agee EM (1979) Characteristics of tornado-like vortices as a function of swirl ratio: a laboratory investigation. J Atmos Sci 36:1755–1766CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cleland JD (2001) Laboratory measurements of velocity profiles in simulated tornado-like vortices. J Undergrad Res Phys 18:51–57Google Scholar
  7. Dessens JJ (1972) Influence of ground roughness on tornadoes: a laboratory simulation. J Appl Meteorol 11(1):72–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Haan FL, Sarkar PP, Gallus WA (2008) Design, construction and performance of a large tornado simulator for wind engineering applications. Eng Struct 30:1146–1159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Haan FL, Balaramudu VK, Sarkar PP (2010) Tornado-induced wind loads on a low-rise building. Struct Eng 136:106–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hu H, Yang Z, Sarkar P, Haan FL (2011) Characterization of the wind loads and flow fields around a gable-roof building model in tornado-like winds. Exp Fluids 51(3):835–851CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kuai L, Haan FL, Gallus WA (2008) CFD simulations of the flow field of a laboratory-simulated tornado for parameter sensitivity studies and comparison with field measurements. Wind Struct 11(2):75–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Lee WC, Wurman J (2005) Diagnosed three-dimensional axisymmetric structure of the Mulhall tornado on 3 May 1999. J Atmos Sci 62(7):2373–2393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lee JJ, Samaras T, Young CR (2004) Pressure measurements at the ground in an F-4 tornado. In: Preprints of the 22nd conference on severe local storms, Hyannis, MA. American Meteorological Society, BostonGoogle Scholar
  14. Leslie FW (1977) Surface roughness effects on suction vortex formation: a laboratory simulation. J Atmos Sci 34(7):1022–1027CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lewellen WS, Sheng YP (1979) Influence of surface conditions on tornado wind distribution. In: Proceedings of the 11th conference on severe local storms, Kansas City. American Meteorological Society, Boston, pp 375–378 (Preprints)Google Scholar
  16. Matsui M, Tamura Y (2009) Influence of incident flow conditions on generation of tornado-like flow. In: Proceedings of the 11th American conference on wind engineering, Puerto RicoGoogle Scholar
  17. Metzger RS, Weiss CC (2010) An Examination of the Vertical Structure of two tornadoes using Ka-band mobile Doppler radar. In: 25th Conference on severe local storms (Preprints). American Meteorological Society, BostonGoogle Scholar
  18. Mishra AR, James DJ, Letchford CW (2008) Physical simulation of a single-celled tornado-like vortex, part A. Flow field characterization. J Wind Eng Ind Aerodyn 96:1243–1257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mitsuta Y, Monji N (1984) Development of a laboratory simulator for small scale atmospheric vortices. Nat Disaster Sci 6(1):43–53Google Scholar
  20. Natarajan D, Hangan H (2009) Numerical study on the effects of surface roughness on tornado-like flows. In: Proceedings of the 11th Americas conference on wind engineering, Puerto RicoGoogle Scholar
  21. Natarajan D, Hangan H (2012) Large eddy simulations of translation and surface roughness effects on tornado-like vortices. J Wind Eng Ind Aerodyn 104:577–584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Neakrase LD, Greeley R (2010) Dust devils in the laboratory: effect of surface roughness on vortex dynamics. J Geophys Res 115(E5):E05003CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Raupach MR, Antonia RA, Rajagopalan S (1991) Rough-wall turbulent boundary layers. Appl Mech Rev 44:1–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Refan M, Hangan H (2016) Characterization of tornado-like flow fields in a new model scale wind testing chamber. J Wind Eng Ind Aerodyn 151:107–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Rotunno R (1979) A study in tornado-like vortex dynamics. J Atmos Sci 36:140–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Roueche D, Prevatt DO (2013) Residential damage patterns following the 2011 Tuscaloosa, AL and Joplin. MO tornadoes. J Disaster Res 8(6):1061–1067CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sabareesh GR, Matsui M, Tamura Y (2013) Characteristics of internal pressures and net local roof wind forces on a building exposed to a tornado-like vortex. J Wind Eng Ind Aerodyn 112:52–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sengupta A, Haan FL, Sarkar PP (2008) Translating loads on buildings in microburst and tornado winds. J Wind Eng Ind Aerodyn 96:2173–2187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Snow JT, Church CR, Barnhart BJ (1980) An investigation of the surface pressure fields beneath simulated tornado cyclones. J Atmos Sci 37:1013–1026CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Tamura Y, (representative), (2007) Report of investigation of serious tornado damage in Saroma-cho. Hokkaido, Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  31. Tamura T, Cao S, Ohno O, Okuda Y, Okada H, Yamauchi H (2003) LES estimation on wind profile in the urban area—comparison with the observation data during typhoon. In: Proceedings of the 11th international conference on wind engineering, Lubbock, pp 2697–2704Google Scholar
  32. Ward NB (1972) The exploration of certain features of tornado dynamics using a laboratory model. J Atmos Sci 29:1194–1204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wilkins EM, Sasaki Y, Johnson HL (1975) Surface friction effects on thermal convection in a rotating fluid: a laboratory simulation. Mon Weather Rev 103(4):305–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wurman J, Alexander CR (2005) The 30 May 1998 Spencer, South Dakota, storm. Part II: comparison of observed damage and radar-derived winds in the tornadoes. Mon Weather Rev 133(1):97–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zhang W, Sarkar PP (2008) Effects of ground roughness on tornado like vortex using PIV. In: Proceedings of the AAWE workshop, Vail, COGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jin Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shuyang Cao
    • 1
  • Weichiang Pang
    • 2
  • Jinxin Cao
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Disaster Reduction in Civil EngineeringTongji UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Glenn Department of Civil EngineeringClemson UniversityClemsonUSA

Personalised recommendations