A Three-Dimensional Numerical Study of an Oklahoma Squall Line Containing Right-Flank Supercells

Jimy Dudhia National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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Mitchell W. Moncrieff National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

A nonhydrostatic numerical mesoscale model has been applied to the study of an Oklahoma squall line with initial conditions taken from the Oklahoma–Kansas Preliminary Regional Experiment for STORM-Central (PRE-STORM) data for 7 May 1985. The model reproduced features typical of organized propagating convection occurring during spring and summer in this region, namely a squall line/mesoscale convective system containing strong right-flank convection resembling many documented cases. The alignment and motion of the system change during its development and are determined by the ambient wind at three levels, the steering level of the mature cells, the level of free convection, and the surface layer. Three persistent right-flank cells had a characteristic rightward propagation relative to the mean wind shear vector. Their propagation occurred through successive mergers of cells that had formed at a downdraft outflow convergence front and were similar to the flanking line often seen to the south of strong updraft cores.

The three-dimensional flow structure of the right-flank cells was found to center on a distinct dynamical pressure pattern that itself resulted from the interaction of the midlevel relative flow with the cyclonic vorticity in the updrafts. This low pressure on the updraft's flank extended down to low levels where it was partly responsible for directing the southward surge of downdraft air causing the convergence and flanking line. Other types of supercell propagation are speculated upon in relation to this characteristic dynamical pressure effect evident in the simulation in the neighborhood of cyclonic updrafts.

The updraft cyclonic vorticity was found to strongly influence the domain-scale circulation, particularly in the upper troposphere where it counteracted the anticyclonic production due to divergence and the Coriolis acceleration, leaving net cyclonic vorticity throughout most of the troposphere on a scale of 200 km.

Abstract

A nonhydrostatic numerical mesoscale model has been applied to the study of an Oklahoma squall line with initial conditions taken from the Oklahoma–Kansas Preliminary Regional Experiment for STORM-Central (PRE-STORM) data for 7 May 1985. The model reproduced features typical of organized propagating convection occurring during spring and summer in this region, namely a squall line/mesoscale convective system containing strong right-flank convection resembling many documented cases. The alignment and motion of the system change during its development and are determined by the ambient wind at three levels, the steering level of the mature cells, the level of free convection, and the surface layer. Three persistent right-flank cells had a characteristic rightward propagation relative to the mean wind shear vector. Their propagation occurred through successive mergers of cells that had formed at a downdraft outflow convergence front and were similar to the flanking line often seen to the south of strong updraft cores.

The three-dimensional flow structure of the right-flank cells was found to center on a distinct dynamical pressure pattern that itself resulted from the interaction of the midlevel relative flow with the cyclonic vorticity in the updrafts. This low pressure on the updraft's flank extended down to low levels where it was partly responsible for directing the southward surge of downdraft air causing the convergence and flanking line. Other types of supercell propagation are speculated upon in relation to this characteristic dynamical pressure effect evident in the simulation in the neighborhood of cyclonic updrafts.

The updraft cyclonic vorticity was found to strongly influence the domain-scale circulation, particularly in the upper troposphere where it counteracted the anticyclonic production due to divergence and the Coriolis acceleration, leaving net cyclonic vorticity throughout most of the troposphere on a scale of 200 km.

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