Friday: The St. Louis EF-3 "Leading Edge" Tornado

You'll note that I have not posted any of the videos from chasers doing foolish things. I don't wish to give them the publicity. Another video that, in my opinion, was made foolishly was in St. Charles County, Missouri, Friday evening. That video has important information, so I did three screen captures.

It is rare that leading edge tornadoes reach F-3 on the scale. The vast majority are weaker. Second, I've never seen what a tornado of that intensity on the leading edge looks like, so I thought it would be useful to show these for storm spotting purposes. The tornado looks more or less like an F-3 would look except it is under the shelf cloud.

The first pair of images is the radar reflectivity and velocity from the same time as the above photos.
 This signature in the reflectivity data is sometimes called a "claw."

Strong couplet in the velocity data.

Eight minutes later (using the STL TDWR; the NWS radar went offline for a time when the tornado passed near their office in Weldon Spring), I captured these amazing images of the tornado in northern St. Louis County just before it did its damage at Lambert Field.

This is probably the strongest velocity couplet I have ever seen with a leading edge tornado.

I would never, ever attempt to chase a leading edge tornado even with a full team and in a rural area. They move too quickly and, with the rain on the leading edge, are often embedded in rain.


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