A Review of the Characteristics of Tornadic Wind Fields through Observations and Simulations


Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air that may be produced by convective clouds and storms, and can produce substantial property damage, injuries, and deaths. To mitigate these losses and encourage accurate modeling and research in the field of civil engineering, with the goal of improving civil structure design, a comprehensive review of field measurements, lab simulations, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations of tornadoes is conducted. From this review, several tornadoes are examined and their characteristics presented. Specifically, characteristics of these tornadoes are provided in the following form: velocity of the wind field, pressure distribution associated with the wind field, tornado core radius, and flow structure (i.e., single vortex versus multiple vortices; for single vortex, one-celled versus two-celled). In addition, the driving forces behind tornadoes and the relationships between damage and reported intensity are examined, and the physical and numerical simulation of tornadoes conducted in civil engineering are reviewed. This paper is intended to provide a baseline review so that more accurate simulations of tornadic wind fields in civil engineering research can be made by providing some field-measured data from the meteorology community. This will benefit individual safety, community resilience and awareness, and simulation accuracy for future research.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Research Center/Lab(s)

Center for High Performance Computing Research

Second Research Center/Lab

Intelligent Systems Center

Keywords and Phrases

Civil engineering; Meteorology; Review; Tornadic wind field; Tornado dynamics

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jul 2020