Severe Thunderstorm Development in Relation to Along-Dryline Variability: A Case Study

Carl E. Hane NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Howard B. Bluestein School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

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Todd M. Crawford School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

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Michael E. Baldwin General Sciences Corporation, Laurel, Maryland

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Robert M. Rabin NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Abstract

Long-lived thunderstorms were initiated during the afternoon of 26 May 1991 ahead of a dryline in northwestern Oklahoma. Various reasons for initiation in this particular along-dryline location are investigated through analysis of observations collected during the Cooperative Oklahoma Profiler Studies—1991 field program. Observing systems included in situ and radar instrumentation aboard a research aircraft, soundings from mobile laboratories, a mesonetwork of surface stations, meteorological satellites, and operational networks of surface and upper-air stations.

Elevated moistening east of the dryline revealed by soundings and aircraft observations in combination with thermal plume activity was apparently insufficient to promote sustained convection on this day without aid from an additional lifting mechanism. Satellite observations reveal scattered convection along the dryline by midafternoon and a convective cloud line intersecting the dryline at an angle in the area of most pronounced storm initiation, extending southwestward into the dry air. Another prominent feature on this day was a mesoscale bulge along the dryline extending northeastward into southwest Kansas. Deep convection was initiated along this bulge, but was in general short-lived.

Potential causes of the lifting associated with the cloud line that was apparently key to the preferred location for storm development in northwest Oklahoma were investigated: (a) a mesoscale circulation resulting from horizontal differences in radiative (temperature) properties of the underlying surface and (b) upward motion induced by an upper-level mesoscale disturbance. Analysis of vegetative and surface temperature distributions from satellite observations suggests a potential (more research is needed) link between surface characteristics and the development of the dryline bulge and observed cloud line through horizontal differences in vertical momentum transport. A run of the currently operational eta model indicates some skill in predicting dryline location and motion and predicts upward motion in the northern part of the region that was generally more convectively active, but shows no indication of upper-level support in the vicinity of the observed cloud line.

 Additional affiliation: NOAA/National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Camp Springs, Maryland.

 Current affiliation: NOAA/Storm Prediction Center, Norman, Oklahoma.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Carl E. Hane, National Severe Storms Laboratory, 1313 Halley Circle, Norman, OK 73069.

Email: hane@nssl.nssl.uoknor.edu

Abstract

Long-lived thunderstorms were initiated during the afternoon of 26 May 1991 ahead of a dryline in northwestern Oklahoma. Various reasons for initiation in this particular along-dryline location are investigated through analysis of observations collected during the Cooperative Oklahoma Profiler Studies—1991 field program. Observing systems included in situ and radar instrumentation aboard a research aircraft, soundings from mobile laboratories, a mesonetwork of surface stations, meteorological satellites, and operational networks of surface and upper-air stations.

Elevated moistening east of the dryline revealed by soundings and aircraft observations in combination with thermal plume activity was apparently insufficient to promote sustained convection on this day without aid from an additional lifting mechanism. Satellite observations reveal scattered convection along the dryline by midafternoon and a convective cloud line intersecting the dryline at an angle in the area of most pronounced storm initiation, extending southwestward into the dry air. Another prominent feature on this day was a mesoscale bulge along the dryline extending northeastward into southwest Kansas. Deep convection was initiated along this bulge, but was in general short-lived.

Potential causes of the lifting associated with the cloud line that was apparently key to the preferred location for storm development in northwest Oklahoma were investigated: (a) a mesoscale circulation resulting from horizontal differences in radiative (temperature) properties of the underlying surface and (b) upward motion induced by an upper-level mesoscale disturbance. Analysis of vegetative and surface temperature distributions from satellite observations suggests a potential (more research is needed) link between surface characteristics and the development of the dryline bulge and observed cloud line through horizontal differences in vertical momentum transport. A run of the currently operational eta model indicates some skill in predicting dryline location and motion and predicts upward motion in the northern part of the region that was generally more convectively active, but shows no indication of upper-level support in the vicinity of the observed cloud line.

 Additional affiliation: NOAA/National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Camp Springs, Maryland.

 Current affiliation: NOAA/Storm Prediction Center, Norman, Oklahoma.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Carl E. Hane, National Severe Storms Laboratory, 1313 Halley Circle, Norman, OK 73069.

Email: hane@nssl.nssl.uoknor.edu

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