An Intense, Quasi-Steady Thunderstorm over Mountainous Terrain. Part II: Doppler Radar Observations of the Storm Morphological Structure

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523
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Abstract

An analysis of an intense, quasi-steady thunderstorm which developed over mountainous terrain is presented. This storm, extensively analyzed using multiple Doppler radar and surface mesonet data, formed within an environment having strong low-level wind shear. The evolution and characteristics of the mesoscale systems prior to storm formation are presented in Part I (Cotton et al., 1982). Such an environment was responsible for several unique storm features, including a quasi-steady primary updraft circulation and movement 50° to the left of the cloud layer (2–8 km AGL) environmental winds.

Several interactions were observed or inferred near and within the storm. Vertical transport of northerly low-level momentum within the updraft imparted a significant blocking on mid-level flow having southerly momentum. Such a blocking affected the movement and characteristics of adjacent, less organized storms. Additional storm-environment interactions produced an organized recirculation of precipitation particles from the mid-level updraft to the low-level updraft.

It is concluded that the steadiness of the storm depended on two factors: 1) the introduction of low-level flow which was directed opposite to mid-level flow, 2) formation of persistent downdrafts of sufficient magnitude to sustain an active gust front.

Abstract

An analysis of an intense, quasi-steady thunderstorm which developed over mountainous terrain is presented. This storm, extensively analyzed using multiple Doppler radar and surface mesonet data, formed within an environment having strong low-level wind shear. The evolution and characteristics of the mesoscale systems prior to storm formation are presented in Part I (Cotton et al., 1982). Such an environment was responsible for several unique storm features, including a quasi-steady primary updraft circulation and movement 50° to the left of the cloud layer (2–8 km AGL) environmental winds.

Several interactions were observed or inferred near and within the storm. Vertical transport of northerly low-level momentum within the updraft imparted a significant blocking on mid-level flow having southerly momentum. Such a blocking affected the movement and characteristics of adjacent, less organized storms. Additional storm-environment interactions produced an organized recirculation of precipitation particles from the mid-level updraft to the low-level updraft.

It is concluded that the steadiness of the storm depended on two factors: 1) the introduction of low-level flow which was directed opposite to mid-level flow, 2) formation of persistent downdrafts of sufficient magnitude to sustain an active gust front.

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