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Small-Scale Structure of a Coastal Front as Revealed by Dual-Doppler Radar

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  • 1 Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
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Abstract

The analysis of the rainband structure and wind fields associated with a coastal front along the North Carolina shoreline is described. Dual-Doppler radar and the augmented GALE (Genesis of Atlantic Lows Experiment) ensemble of in situ stations depict shallow, convective rainbands that overtake the front from the warm-air sector and intensify at the surface front location. Clockwise band rotation is shown to be caused by the difference in alignment between the echo motion and the rainband axes and by new development ahead of the front.

Radar measurements depict the circulation systems associated with a portion of one rainband in the cold air ahead of the front. Here shallow precipitation cores are vertically tilted due to the frontal wind shear. Circulation cells and most precipitation cores are centered just above the frontal inversion, as inferred by the wind shift line aloft. This feature is nearly horizontal in the cross-frontal direction but slopes downward in a direction roughly parallel to the front.

Ahead of the front, main updrafts in and above the cold air are found near the upwind portion of precipitation cores and along two well-defined lines aligned roughly perpendicular to the front. These lines propagate northward and affect several nearby surface sites prior to frontal passage. The speed of northward propagation is consistent with gravity wave theory, while on the larger scale the front appears to behave as the leading edge of a density current. The major features found in this case are compared and contrasted with those of a synoptic-scale warm front.

Abstract

The analysis of the rainband structure and wind fields associated with a coastal front along the North Carolina shoreline is described. Dual-Doppler radar and the augmented GALE (Genesis of Atlantic Lows Experiment) ensemble of in situ stations depict shallow, convective rainbands that overtake the front from the warm-air sector and intensify at the surface front location. Clockwise band rotation is shown to be caused by the difference in alignment between the echo motion and the rainband axes and by new development ahead of the front.

Radar measurements depict the circulation systems associated with a portion of one rainband in the cold air ahead of the front. Here shallow precipitation cores are vertically tilted due to the frontal wind shear. Circulation cells and most precipitation cores are centered just above the frontal inversion, as inferred by the wind shift line aloft. This feature is nearly horizontal in the cross-frontal direction but slopes downward in a direction roughly parallel to the front.

Ahead of the front, main updrafts in and above the cold air are found near the upwind portion of precipitation cores and along two well-defined lines aligned roughly perpendicular to the front. These lines propagate northward and affect several nearby surface sites prior to frontal passage. The speed of northward propagation is consistent with gravity wave theory, while on the larger scale the front appears to behave as the leading edge of a density current. The major features found in this case are compared and contrasted with those of a synoptic-scale warm front.

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