A Case Study of the Interaction of a Mesoscale Gravity Wave with a Mesoscale Convective System

James H. Ruppert Jr. Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

Search for other papers by James H. Ruppert Jr. in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
and
Lance F. Bosart Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York

Search for other papers by Lance F. Bosart in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Restricted access

Abstract

This study documents the high-amplitude mesoscale gravity wave (MGW) event of 7 March 2008 in which two MGWs strongly impacted the sensible weather over a large portion of the Southeast United States. These MGWs exhibited starkly contrasting character despite propagating within similar environments. The primary (i.e., long lived) MGW was manifest by a solitary wave of depression associated with rapid sinking motion and adiabatic warming, while the secondary (short lived) MGW was manifest by a solitary wave of elevation (“MGWEL”), dominated by rising motion and moist adiabatic cooling. Genesis of the primary MGW occurred as a strong cold front arrived at the foot of Mexico’s high terrain and perturbed the appreciable overriding flow. The resulting gravity wave became ducted in the presence of a low-level frontal stable layer, and caused surface pressure falls up to ~4 hPa. The MGW later amplified as it became coupled with a stratiform precipitation system, which led to its evolution into an intense mesohigh–wake low couplet. This couplet propagated as a ducted MGW attached to a stratiform system for ~12 h thereafter, and induced rapid surface pressure falls of ≥10 hPa (including a fall of 6.7 hPa in 10 min), rapid wind vector changes (e.g., 17 m s−1 in 25 min), and high wind gusts (e.g., 20 m s−1) across several states. MGWEL appeared within the remnants of a squall line, and was manifest by a sharp pressure ridge of ~6 hPa with a narrow embedded rainband following the motion of a surface cold front. MGWEL bore resemblance to previously documented gravity waves formed by density currents propagating through stable environments.

Corresponding author address: James H. Ruppert Jr., Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, 1371 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523. E-mail: ruppert@atmos.colostate.edu

Abstract

This study documents the high-amplitude mesoscale gravity wave (MGW) event of 7 March 2008 in which two MGWs strongly impacted the sensible weather over a large portion of the Southeast United States. These MGWs exhibited starkly contrasting character despite propagating within similar environments. The primary (i.e., long lived) MGW was manifest by a solitary wave of depression associated with rapid sinking motion and adiabatic warming, while the secondary (short lived) MGW was manifest by a solitary wave of elevation (“MGWEL”), dominated by rising motion and moist adiabatic cooling. Genesis of the primary MGW occurred as a strong cold front arrived at the foot of Mexico’s high terrain and perturbed the appreciable overriding flow. The resulting gravity wave became ducted in the presence of a low-level frontal stable layer, and caused surface pressure falls up to ~4 hPa. The MGW later amplified as it became coupled with a stratiform precipitation system, which led to its evolution into an intense mesohigh–wake low couplet. This couplet propagated as a ducted MGW attached to a stratiform system for ~12 h thereafter, and induced rapid surface pressure falls of ≥10 hPa (including a fall of 6.7 hPa in 10 min), rapid wind vector changes (e.g., 17 m s−1 in 25 min), and high wind gusts (e.g., 20 m s−1) across several states. MGWEL appeared within the remnants of a squall line, and was manifest by a sharp pressure ridge of ~6 hPa with a narrow embedded rainband following the motion of a surface cold front. MGWEL bore resemblance to previously documented gravity waves formed by density currents propagating through stable environments.

Corresponding author address: James H. Ruppert Jr., Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, 1371 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523. E-mail: ruppert@atmos.colostate.edu
Save
  • Adams-Selin, R. D., S. C. van den Heever, and R. H. Johnson, 2013: Impact of graupel parameterization schemes on idealized bow echo simulations. Mon. Wea. Rev., 141, 12411262.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Blumen, W., 1972: Geostrophic adjustment. Rev. Geophys., 10, 485528.

  • Bosart, L. F., and J. P. Cussen Jr., 1973: Gravity wave phenomena accompanying East Coast cyclogenesis. Mon. Wea. Rev., 101, 446454.

  • Bosart, L. F., and F. Sanders, 1986: Mesoscale structure in the megalopolitan snowstorm of 11–12 February 1983. Part III: A large-amplitude gravity wave. J. Atmos. Sci., 43, 924939.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bosart, L. F., and A. Seimon, 1988: A case study of an unusually intense atmospheric gravity wave. Mon. Wea. Rev., 116, 18571886.

  • Bosart, L. F., W. E. Bracken, and A. Seimon, 1998: A study of cyclone mesoscale structure with emphasis on a large-amplitude inertia-gravity wave. Mon. Wea. Rev., 126, 14971527.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brunk, I. W., 1949: The pressure pulsation of 11 April 1944. J. Meteor., 6, 181187.

  • Christie, D. R., K. J. Muirhead, and A. L. Hales, 1979: Intrusive density flows in the lower troposphere: A source of atmospheric solitons. J. Geophys. Res., 84 (C8), 49594970.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Durran, D. R., and J. B. Klemp, 1982: On the effects of moisture on the Brunt–Väisälä frequency. J. Atmos. Sci., 39, 21522158.

  • Eom, J. K., 1975: Analysis of the internal gravity wave occurrence of 19 April 1970 in the Midwest. Mon. Wea. Rev., 103, 217226.

  • Ferguson, H. L., 1967: Mathematical and synoptic aspects of a small-scale wave disturbance over the lower Great Lakes area. J. Appl. Meteor., 6, 523529.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ferretti, R., F. Einaudi, and L. W. Uccellini, 1988: Wave disturbances associated with the Red River Valley severe weather outbreak of 10–11 April 1979. Meteor. Atmos. Phys., 39, 132168.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fujita, T. T., 1955: Results of detailed synoptic studies of squall lines. Tellus, 7, 405436.

  • Fujita, T. T., 1959: Precipitation and cold air production in mesoscale thunderstorm systems. J. Meteor., 16, 454466.

  • Gallus, W. A., 1996: The influence of microphysics in the formation of intense wake lows: A numerical modeling study. Mon. Wea. Rev., 124, 22672281.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gallus, W. A., and R. H. Johnson, 1991: Heat and moisture budgets of an intense midlatitude squall line. J. Atmos. Sci., 48, 122146.

  • Haertel, P. T., and R. H. Johnson, 2000: The linear dynamics of squall line mesohighs and wake lows. J. Atmos. Sci., 57, 93107.

  • Haertel, P. T., R. H. Johnson, and S. N. Tulich, 2001: Some simple simulations of thunderstorm outflows. J. Atmos. Sci., 58, 504516.

  • Johnson, R. H., 2001: Surface mesohighs and mesolows. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 82, 1331.

  • Johnson, R. H., and P. J. Hamilton, 1988: The relationship of surface pressure features to the precipitation and airflow structure of an intense midlatitude squall line. Mon. Wea. Rev., 116, 14441473.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Johnson, R. H., S. Chen, and J. J. Toth, 1989: Circulations associated with a mature-to-decaying midlatitude mesoscale convective system. Part I: Surface features—heat bursts and mesolow development. Mon. Wea. Rev., 117, 942959.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Knippertz, P., J. M. Chagnon, A. Foster, L. Lathouwers, J. H. Marsham, J. Methven, and D. J. Parker, 2010: Research flight observations of a prefrontal gravity wave near the southwestern UK. Weather, 65, 293297.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Koch, S. E., R. E. Golus, and P. B. Dorian, 1988: A mesoscale gravity wave event observed during CCOPE. Part II: Interactions between mesoscale convective systems and the antecedent waves. Mon. Wea. Rev., 116, 25452569.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Koch, S. E., W. Feltz, F. Fabry, M. Pagowski, B. Geerts, K. M. Bedka, D. O. Miller, and J. W. Wilson, 2008: Turbulent mixing processes in atmospheric bores and solitary waves deduced from profiling systems and numerical simulation. Mon. Wea. Rev., 136, 13731400.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lalas, D. P., and F. Einaudi, 1976: On the characteristics of gravity waves generated by atmospheric shear layers. J. Atmos. Sci., 33, 12481259.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lemon, L. R., and C. A. Doswell, 1979: Severe thunderstorm evolution and mesocyclone structure as related to tornadogenesis. Mon. Wea. Rev., 107, 11841197.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lin, Y.-L., 2010: Mesoscale wave generation and maintenance. Mesoscale Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, 64–108.

  • Lin, Y.-L., and R. C. Goff, 1988: A study of a mesoscale solitary wave in the atmosphere originating near a region of deep convection. J. Atmos. Sci., 45, 194206.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lin, Y., and F. Zhang, 2008: Tracking gravity waves in baroclinic jet-front systems. J. Atmos. Sci., 65, 24022415.

  • Lindzen, R. S., 1974: Wave-CISK in the tropics. J. Atmos. Sci., 31, 156179.

  • Lindzen, R. S., and K.-K. Tung, 1976: Banded convective activity and ducted gravity waves. Mon. Wea. Rev., 104, 16021617.

  • Loehrer, S. M., and R. H. Johnson, 1995: Surface pressure and precipitation life cycle characteristics of PRE-STORM mesoscale convective systems. Mon. Wea. Rev., 123, 600621.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Miller, D. A., and F. Sanders, 1980: Mesoscale conditions for the severe convection of 3 April 1974 in the east-central United States. J. Atmos. Sci., 37, 10411055.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nadolski, V. L., 1998: Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) user’s guide. NOAA, Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Administration, U. S. Navy, 74 pp. [Available online at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/asos/pdfs/aum-toc.pdf.]

  • Neiman, P. J., F. M. Ralph, R. L. Weber, T. Uttal, L. B. Nance, and D. H. Levinson, 2001: Observations of nonclassical frontal propagation and frontally forced gravity waves adjacent to steep topography. Mon. Wea. Rev., 129, 26332659.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Parker, M. D., and R. H. Johnson, 2000: Organizational modes of midlatitude mesoscale convective systems. Mon. Wea. Rev., 128, 34133436.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pecnick, M. J., and J. A. Young, 1984: Mechanics of a strong subsynoptic gravity wave deduced from satellite and surface observations. J. Atmos. Sci., 41, 18501862.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Petterssen, S., 1936: Contribution to the theory of frontogenesis. Geofys. Publ., 11 (6), 127.

  • Petterssen, S., 1956: Motion and Motion Systems. Vol. 2, Weather Analysis and Forecasting, McGraw-Hill, 428 pp.

  • Plougonven, R., and C. Snyder, 2007: Inertia–gravity waves spontaneously generated by jets and fronts. Part I: Different baroclinic life cycles. J. Atmos. Sci., 64, 25022520.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Plougonven, R., and F. Zhang, 2014: Internal gravity waves from atmospheric jets and fronts. Rev. Geophys., doi:10.1002/2012RG000419, in press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ralph, F. M., M. Crochet, and S. V. Venkateswaran, 1993: Observations of a mesoscale ducted gravity wave. J. Atmos. Sci., 50, 32773291.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ralph, F. M., P. J. Neiman, and T. L. Keller, 1999: Deep-tropospheric gravity waves created by leeside cold fronts. J. Atmos. Sci., 56, 29863009.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ramamurthy, M. K., R. M. Rauber, B. P. Collins, and N. K. Malhotra, 1993: A comparative study of large-amplitude gravity-wave events. Mon. Wea. Rev., 121, 29512974.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Raymond, D. J., 1984: A wave-CISK model of squall lines. J. Atmos. Sci., 41, 19461958.

  • Snyder, C., W. C. Skamarock, and R. Rotunno, 1993: Frontal dynamics near and following frontal collapse. J. Atmos. Sci., 50, 31943212.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Snyder, C., D. J. Muraki, R. Plougonven, and F. Zhang, 2007: Inertia–gravity waves generated within a dipole vortex. J. Atmos. Sci., 64, 44174431.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Snyder, C., R. Plougonven, and D. J. Muraki, 2009: Mechanisms for spontaneous gravity wave generation within a dipole vortex. J. Atmos. Sci., 66, 34643478.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stobie, J. G., F. Einaudi, and L. W. Uccellini, 1983: A case study of gravity waves–convective storms interaction: 9 May 1979. J. Atmos. Sci., 40, 28042830.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stumpf, G. J., R. H. Johnson, and B. F. Smull, 1991: The wake low in a midlatitude mesoscale convective system having complex convective organization. Mon. Wea. Rev., 119, 134158.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tepper, M., 1951: On the desiccation of a cloud bank by a propagated pressure wave. Mon. Wea. Rev., 79, 6170.

  • Trexler, C. M., and S. E. Koch, 2000: The life cycle of a mesoscale gravity wave as observed by a network of Doppler wind profilers. Mon. Wea. Rev., 128, 24232446.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Uccellini, L. W., 1975: A case study of apparent gravity wave initiation of severe convective storms. Mon. Wea. Rev., 103, 497513.

  • Uccellini, L. W., and S. E. Koch, 1987: The synoptic setting and possible energy sources for mesoscale wave disturbances. Mon. Wea. Rev., 115, 721729.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Van Tuyl, A. H., and J. A. Young, 1982: Numerical simulation of nonlinear jet streak adjustment. Mon. Wea. Rev., 110, 20382054.

  • Wagner, A. J., 1962: Gravity wave over New England, April 12, 1961. Mon. Wea. Rev., 90, 431436.

  • Wakimoto, R. M., 1982: Life cycle of thunderstorm gust fronts as viewed with Doppler radar and rawinsonde data. Mon. Wea. Rev., 110, 10601082.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wang, S., and F. Zhang, 2010: Source of gravity waves within a vortex-dipole jet revealed by a linear model. J. Atmos. Sci., 67, 14381455.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wang, S., F. Zhang, and C. Snyder, 2009: Generation and propagation of inertia–gravity waves from vortex dipoles and jets. J. Atmos. Sci., 66, 12941314.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhang, D.-L., and K. Gao, 1989: Numerical simulation of an intense squall line during 10–11 June 1985 PRE-STORM. Part II: Rear inflow, surface pressure perturbations, and stratiform precipitation. Mon. Wea. Rev., 117, 20672094.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhang, F., 2004: Generation of mesoscale gravity waves in upper-tropospheric jet–front systems. J. Atmos. Sci., 61, 440457.

  • Zhang, F., and S. E. Koch, 2000: Numerical simulations of a gravity wave event over CCOPE. Part II: Waves generated by an orographic density current. Mon. Wea. Rev., 128, 27772796.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhang, F., S. E. Koch, C. A. Davis, and M. L. Kaplan, 2001: Wavelet analysis and the governing dynamics of a large-amplitude mesoscale gravity-wave event along the East Coast of the United States. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 127, 22092245.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 671 149 4
PDF Downloads 421 199 4