Natural Hazards

, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 373–392 | Cite as

Subtropical/polar jet influence on Plains and Southeast tornado outbreaks

  • Robert T. Kelnosky
  • Gregory J. Tripoli
  • Jonathan E. Martin
Original Paper


While extensive research consideration has been given to the Northern Hemispheric polar (PJ) and subtropical jet (STJ) streams, there have been fewer climatological studies relating these two jet types to tornado outbreaks. This study examines tornado outbreaks in two regions with substantial tornado risk, Plains Tornado Alley (PTA) and Southeast Tornado Alley (STA), and classifies the jet streak types associated with the outbreaks. Utilizing the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) tornado database and an objective jet identification scheme created from NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis 1 data, jet streaks were identified as STJ, PJ, merged (identified as STJ and PJ), superposed, or unidentified for a 30-year period between 1984 and 2013. Tornado outbreaks were categorized into different types based on these jet streak types. Results revealed STJ and PJ tornado outbreaks compose the majority of tornado outbreaks, as well as the most intense outbreaks, in both PTA and STA. STJ tornado outbreaks were found to be more common in PTA than in STA, while PJ outbreaks were more common in STA than in PTA. The study concludes by considering how a coupled jet structure may be important for tornado outbreaks.


Jet Tornado Climatology Southeast Plains 



This work was funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant AGS-1137137 and the Office of Naval Research under Grant N001410132. We would like to thank Luke Odell for his constructive feedback, as well as Zachary Handlos for his help with GEMPAK. In addition, we would like to thank four anonymous reviewers for their careful readings of the manuscript and their invaluable comments and suggestions.

Supplementary material

11069_2018_3306_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (946 kb)
Online Resource 1 A chronological listing of all tornado outbreak cases from 1984 to 2013, and their associated statistical attributes. Times represent tornado touchdown times. Significant tornado production is the time between the first tornado touchdown and last tornado touchdown. Tornado numbers from the SPC tornado database represent a count of tornadoes during the year, and may be used as tornado identification number by year. (XLSX 946 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert T. Kelnosky
    • 1
  • Gregory J. Tripoli
    • 1
  • Jonathan E. Martin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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