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The Front Range Blizzard of 1990. Part I: Synoptic and Mesoscale Structure

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  • 1 University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming
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Abstract

Over 1 m of snow fell in the foothills of southeast Wyoming and northeast Colorado during the storm of 6–7 March 1990. The heavy snowfall combined with strong winds to product blizzard conditions resulting in major highways being closed for several days. The heaviest snow fell in the vicinity of a narrow northerly barrier jet that developed in place along the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies. Strong warm-air advection from the southeast was observed during the development of the barrier jet; there was no cold-air advection from the north. Rapid intensification of the barrier jet took place only after precipitation started and was concurrent with the development of heavy precipitation. A mesoscale front marked the transition from southeasterly to northerly flow. This front remained very close to the rain-snow line and progressed toward the east at 1–2 m s−1 for about 15 h. Melting precipitation appears to be the dominant process contributing to the development of the barrier jet and mesoscale front.

Abstract

Over 1 m of snow fell in the foothills of southeast Wyoming and northeast Colorado during the storm of 6–7 March 1990. The heavy snowfall combined with strong winds to product blizzard conditions resulting in major highways being closed for several days. The heaviest snow fell in the vicinity of a narrow northerly barrier jet that developed in place along the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies. Strong warm-air advection from the southeast was observed during the development of the barrier jet; there was no cold-air advection from the north. Rapid intensification of the barrier jet took place only after precipitation started and was concurrent with the development of heavy precipitation. A mesoscale front marked the transition from southeasterly to northerly flow. This front remained very close to the rain-snow line and progressed toward the east at 1–2 m s−1 for about 15 h. Melting precipitation appears to be the dominant process contributing to the development of the barrier jet and mesoscale front.

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