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Articulating and Stationary PARSIVEL Disdrometer Measurements in Conditions with Strong Winds and Heavy Rainfall

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  • 1 University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
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Abstract

The influence of strong winds on the quality of optical Particle Size Velocity (PARSIVEL) disdrometer measurements is examined with data from Hurricane Ike in 2008 and from convective thunderstorms observed during the second Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX2) in 2010. This study investigates an artifact in particle size distribution (PSD) measurements that has been observed independently by six stationary PARSIVEL disdrometers. The artifact is characterized by a large number concentration of raindrops with large diameters (>5 mm) and unrealistic fall velocities (<1 m s−1). It is correlated with high wind speeds and is consistently observed by stationary disdrometers but is not observed by articulating disdrometers (instruments whose sampling area is rotated into the wind). The effects of strong winds are further examined with a tilting experiment, in which drops are dripped through the PARSIVEL sampling area while the instrument is tilted at various angles, suggesting that the artifact is caused by particles moving at an angle through the sampling area. Most of the time, this effect occurs when wind speed exceeds 20 m s−1, although it was also observed when wind speed was as low as 10 m s−1. An alternative quality control is tested in which raindrops are removed when their diameters exceed 8 mm and they divert from the fall velocity–diameter relationship. While the quality control does provide more realistic reflectivity values for the stationary disdrometers in strong winds, the number concentration is reduced compared to the observations with an articulating disdrometer.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Katja Friedrich, ATOC, University of Colorado Boulder, UCB 311, Boulder, CO 80309. E-mail: katja.friedrich@colorado.edu

Abstract

The influence of strong winds on the quality of optical Particle Size Velocity (PARSIVEL) disdrometer measurements is examined with data from Hurricane Ike in 2008 and from convective thunderstorms observed during the second Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX2) in 2010. This study investigates an artifact in particle size distribution (PSD) measurements that has been observed independently by six stationary PARSIVEL disdrometers. The artifact is characterized by a large number concentration of raindrops with large diameters (>5 mm) and unrealistic fall velocities (<1 m s−1). It is correlated with high wind speeds and is consistently observed by stationary disdrometers but is not observed by articulating disdrometers (instruments whose sampling area is rotated into the wind). The effects of strong winds are further examined with a tilting experiment, in which drops are dripped through the PARSIVEL sampling area while the instrument is tilted at various angles, suggesting that the artifact is caused by particles moving at an angle through the sampling area. Most of the time, this effect occurs when wind speed exceeds 20 m s−1, although it was also observed when wind speed was as low as 10 m s−1. An alternative quality control is tested in which raindrops are removed when their diameters exceed 8 mm and they divert from the fall velocity–diameter relationship. While the quality control does provide more realistic reflectivity values for the stationary disdrometers in strong winds, the number concentration is reduced compared to the observations with an articulating disdrometer.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Katja Friedrich, ATOC, University of Colorado Boulder, UCB 311, Boulder, CO 80309. E-mail: katja.friedrich@colorado.edu
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