Self-organizing maps for the investigation of tornadic near-storm environments

Alexandra K. Anderson-Frey, Yvette P. Richardson, Andrew R. Dean, Richard L. Thompson, Bryan T. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In this work, self-organizing maps (SOMs) are used to investigate patterns of favorable near-storm environmental parameters in a 13-yr climatology of 14 814 tornado events and 44 961 tornado warnings across the continental United States. Establishing nine statistically distinct clusters of spatial distributions of the significant tornado parameter (STP) in the 480 km × 480 km region surrounding each tornado event or warning allows for the examination of each cluster in isolation. For tornado events, distinct patterns are associated more with particular times of day, geographical locations, and times of year. For example, the archetypal springtime dryline setup in the Great Plains emerges readily from the data. While high values of STP tend to correspond to relatively high probabilities of detection (PODs) and relatively low false alarm ratios (FARs), the majority of tornado events occur within a pattern of uniformly lower STP, with relatively high FAR and low POD. Overall, the two-dimensional plots produced by the SOM approach provide an intuitive way of creating nuanced climatologies of tornadic near-storm environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1467-1475
Number of pages9
JournalWeather and Forecasting
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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