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The Mesoscale and Microscale Structure of a Severe Ice Pellet Storm

John M. HanesiakDepartment of Earth and Atmospheric Science, York University, North York, and Climate Processes and Earth Observation Division, Atmospheric Environment Service, Downsview, Ontario, Canada

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Ronald E. StewartClimate Processes and Earth Observation Division, Atmospheric Environment Service, Downsview, and Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science, York University, North York Ontario, Canada

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Abstract

On 1–2 February 1992 a major storm produced a prolonged period (6 h) of ice pellets over St. John's, Newfoundland. At least two key features contributed to the prolonged duration. First, a subsaturated region within an inversion led to a reduction in the melting rate of particles that eventually meant that they could completely refreeze in the lower subfreezing region. This subsaturated region formed within descending air aloft identified by Doppler radar observations. Second, a cold core of air between the surface and the inversion was critically important for the refreezing of partially melted particles. Results from an airmass transformation model were used to show that the ice pellet duration was extended as a result of air traveling over sea ice as opposed to over the ocean. In addition, this study showed that Doppler radar velocity information may be capable of estimating the base height of the above freezing temperature regime during freezing rain/drizzle. Furthermore, the Doppler velocity information may also be used as a warning for possible freezing rain/drizzle conditions. A conceptual model of this storm has been developed to integrate all of the observations and it was also compared to other storms producing ice pellets. Only one other storm possessed a period of sole ice pellets and it was also the only other storm that exhibited a pronounced subsaturated region within the inversion.

Abstract

On 1–2 February 1992 a major storm produced a prolonged period (6 h) of ice pellets over St. John's, Newfoundland. At least two key features contributed to the prolonged duration. First, a subsaturated region within an inversion led to a reduction in the melting rate of particles that eventually meant that they could completely refreeze in the lower subfreezing region. This subsaturated region formed within descending air aloft identified by Doppler radar observations. Second, a cold core of air between the surface and the inversion was critically important for the refreezing of partially melted particles. Results from an airmass transformation model were used to show that the ice pellet duration was extended as a result of air traveling over sea ice as opposed to over the ocean. In addition, this study showed that Doppler radar velocity information may be capable of estimating the base height of the above freezing temperature regime during freezing rain/drizzle. Furthermore, the Doppler velocity information may also be used as a warning for possible freezing rain/drizzle conditions. A conceptual model of this storm has been developed to integrate all of the observations and it was also compared to other storms producing ice pellets. Only one other storm possessed a period of sole ice pellets and it was also the only other storm that exhibited a pronounced subsaturated region within the inversion.

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