Simulated Convective Lines with Parallel Stratiform Precipitation. Part I: An Archetype for Convection in Along-Line Shear

Matthew D. Parker Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina

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Abstract

This article, the first of two describing convective lines with parallel stratiform (PS) precipitation, addresses the basic kinematic and precipitation features of these systems. The PS mode appears to be the preferred organizational structure in environments with line-parallel vertical wind shear. This archetype for long-lived convective systems has received relatively little attention to date, and yet it is frequently implicated in flash flooding because it entails both the along-line movement of hydrometeors and back-building convective development. As a reality check, this paper presents conventional observations of the wind and reflectivity fields associated with an archetypal PS system from 2 May 1997. Thereafter, analyses of idealized numerical simulations serve as the basis for a more detailed investigation of PS systems’ internal structures and processes.

The observations and simulations suggest several unique aspects of the PS structure. The environment’s vertically sheared 3D wind profile helps to explain PS systems’ tendency to back-build, develop line-parallel precipitation, and evolve asymmetrically. Along-line flow within the system cold pool entails back-building on both the mesoscale and the convective scale. As well, along-line flow in the upper troposphere within the system entails along-line hydrometeor transports, especially in the leading and trailing anvils. These behaviors lead to the archetypal PS structure.

Along-line hydrometeor advection means that much of the system’s precipitation falls very near its outflow boundary, and that the convective cells can seed other updrafts farther down the line. As a result, PS systems in line-parallel shear can intensify their cold pools quite rapidly. As well, in time the PS structure is characterized by diminished upper-tropospheric along-line flow within its axis. These factors may hasten transition toward a predominantly rearward-sloped updraft and the production of trailing precipitation. Even in the absence of Coriolis accelerations, this evolutionary pathway leads to highly asymmetric structures, such as are commonly observed in midlatitudes.

The present introductory exposition of PS systems in deep tropospheric line-parallel wind shear sets the stage for a detailed investigation of their dynamics and sensitivities in a companion article.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Matthew Parker, Campus Box 8208, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8208. Email: mdparker@ncsu.edu

Abstract

This article, the first of two describing convective lines with parallel stratiform (PS) precipitation, addresses the basic kinematic and precipitation features of these systems. The PS mode appears to be the preferred organizational structure in environments with line-parallel vertical wind shear. This archetype for long-lived convective systems has received relatively little attention to date, and yet it is frequently implicated in flash flooding because it entails both the along-line movement of hydrometeors and back-building convective development. As a reality check, this paper presents conventional observations of the wind and reflectivity fields associated with an archetypal PS system from 2 May 1997. Thereafter, analyses of idealized numerical simulations serve as the basis for a more detailed investigation of PS systems’ internal structures and processes.

The observations and simulations suggest several unique aspects of the PS structure. The environment’s vertically sheared 3D wind profile helps to explain PS systems’ tendency to back-build, develop line-parallel precipitation, and evolve asymmetrically. Along-line flow within the system cold pool entails back-building on both the mesoscale and the convective scale. As well, along-line flow in the upper troposphere within the system entails along-line hydrometeor transports, especially in the leading and trailing anvils. These behaviors lead to the archetypal PS structure.

Along-line hydrometeor advection means that much of the system’s precipitation falls very near its outflow boundary, and that the convective cells can seed other updrafts farther down the line. As a result, PS systems in line-parallel shear can intensify their cold pools quite rapidly. As well, in time the PS structure is characterized by diminished upper-tropospheric along-line flow within its axis. These factors may hasten transition toward a predominantly rearward-sloped updraft and the production of trailing precipitation. Even in the absence of Coriolis accelerations, this evolutionary pathway leads to highly asymmetric structures, such as are commonly observed in midlatitudes.

The present introductory exposition of PS systems in deep tropospheric line-parallel wind shear sets the stage for a detailed investigation of their dynamics and sensitivities in a companion article.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Matthew Parker, Campus Box 8208, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8208. Email: mdparker@ncsu.edu

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