12 March 1996 -- Vorticity maximum/jet streak induced tornadic thunderstorms over central California

GOES-9 water vapor image

GOES-9 water vapor image | Java animation

A cut-off low formed in the extreme eastern Pacific on 11 March 1996. As the low approached the California coast, a vorticity lobe and mid-level jet streak impinged upon central California, helping to spawn strong convection that produced a few weak tornadoes. Very intricate structure was seen in the water vapor imagery, including a second lobe of vorticity forming offshore during the day on 12 March. The 15 UT 12 March SPC Convective Outlook suggested that thunderstorms might approach severe limits -- shortly after two tornado warnings were issued by the San Joaquin/Hanford NWS forecast office (around 22 UT), a tornado watch was issued by the SPC at 22:41 UT.

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