Kinematic, Thermodynamic, and Visual Structure of Low-Reflectivity Microbursts

View More View Less
  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
  • | 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
© Get Permissions
Restricted access

Abstract

On 9 July 1987, a series of low-reflectivity microbursts were studied over Colorado using dual-Doppler analyses, cloud photogrammetry, and in situ measurements collected by aircraft. These types of wind-shear events are particularly hazardous to the aviation community since the parent cloud and pendant virga shafts appear innocuous. The microburst downdrafts are shown to develop at the location where the virga shafts are, visually, the lowest and opaque. As the downdraft intensifies, sublimation and evaporation (to a smaller extent) rapidly deplete the hydrometeors and result in a shift of the axis of maximum negative vertical velocities into a relatively low reflectivity and transparent region of the virga shafts. Comparisons with weak downdrafts or null null cases reveal that the maximum radar reflectivities within the parent clouds for the two cases are comparable; however, the microburst storm consistently exhibits a larger horizontal area encompassed by the 10-dBZ contour at midlevels prior to downdraft formation.

Abstract

On 9 July 1987, a series of low-reflectivity microbursts were studied over Colorado using dual-Doppler analyses, cloud photogrammetry, and in situ measurements collected by aircraft. These types of wind-shear events are particularly hazardous to the aviation community since the parent cloud and pendant virga shafts appear innocuous. The microburst downdrafts are shown to develop at the location where the virga shafts are, visually, the lowest and opaque. As the downdraft intensifies, sublimation and evaporation (to a smaller extent) rapidly deplete the hydrometeors and result in a shift of the axis of maximum negative vertical velocities into a relatively low reflectivity and transparent region of the virga shafts. Comparisons with weak downdrafts or null null cases reveal that the maximum radar reflectivities within the parent clouds for the two cases are comparable; however, the microburst storm consistently exhibits a larger horizontal area encompassed by the 10-dBZ contour at midlevels prior to downdraft formation.

Save