An elevated convection initiation (CI) of a quasi-linear mesoscale convective system (MCS) that occurred in a weak-lifting environment in the early morning on 23 June 2016 in central-eastern China was investigated using observational analysis and convection-permitting numerical simulations. This MCS gradually developed into a surface-based MCS and eventually produced a strong supercell that spawned an EF4 tornado in Yancheng City of Jiangsu Province and killed 98 people. This elevated MCS was initiated ahead of a surface front without identifiable boundaries at the surface. An elevated moist absolutely unstable layer (MAUL) was found to be conducive to the CI. The MAUL provided negligible convective inhibition and contributed to CI without strong-lifting mechanisms. Numerical simulation results showed that the formation of the elevated MAUL was mainly attributed to adiabatic cooling by weak vertical ascent and sufficient horizontal moisture transport near the terminus of a low-level jet. The weak vertical ascent before the CI was sloping and was likely to be relevant to the layer-lifting process associated with the realization of potential instability. The results showed that the MAUL in this weak-lifting environment was characterized by a shallower depth, a weaker lapse rate, and a longer sustaining period than the conditions in a strong-lifting environment. The predictability of this elevated CI case was examined using a 10-member ensemble forecast. A total of 80% of the ensemble members captured the CI. Rather than a difference in lifting, whether having an elevated MAUL or not was the major difference between CI and non-CI members in the present case.
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