Formation of a Sharp Snow Gradient in a Midwestern Heavy Snow Event

Patrick S. Market University of Missouri—Columbia, Department of Soil and Atmospheric Sciences, Columbia, Missouri

Search for other papers by Patrick S. Market in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
and
David Cissell National Weather Service Office, Springfield, Missouri

Search for other papers by David Cissell in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Restricted access

Abstract

A case study of the 13–14 March 1999 heavy snow event across southern Missouri and neighboring states is presented. Of the many features that made this storm notable, the very sharp gradient on the northern periphery of the snowfall field was most intriguing. Moreover, that the snowfall field was confined to the southern half of the state resulted in snow-free regions across central Missouri where significant accumulations had been predicted. The focus of this study was thus to reveal the cause of such large snowfall gradients. Little evidence exists of convective snowfall over Missouri through 1200 UTC 14 March 1999, when this study ends. Analyses confirm that the release of neither convective instability nor conditional symmetric instability was responsible for the large snowfall gradient on the northern boundary. Instead, the juxtaposition of dry and moist airstreams from the north and south, respectively, as components of a deformation zone ultimately defined the large snowfall gradient across southern Missouri.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Patrick S. Market, Dept. of Soil and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Missouri—Columbia, 203 Gentry Hall, Columbia, MO 65201. Email: marketp@missouri.edu

Abstract

A case study of the 13–14 March 1999 heavy snow event across southern Missouri and neighboring states is presented. Of the many features that made this storm notable, the very sharp gradient on the northern periphery of the snowfall field was most intriguing. Moreover, that the snowfall field was confined to the southern half of the state resulted in snow-free regions across central Missouri where significant accumulations had been predicted. The focus of this study was thus to reveal the cause of such large snowfall gradients. Little evidence exists of convective snowfall over Missouri through 1200 UTC 14 March 1999, when this study ends. Analyses confirm that the release of neither convective instability nor conditional symmetric instability was responsible for the large snowfall gradient on the northern boundary. Instead, the juxtaposition of dry and moist airstreams from the north and south, respectively, as components of a deformation zone ultimately defined the large snowfall gradient across southern Missouri.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Patrick S. Market, Dept. of Soil and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Missouri—Columbia, 203 Gentry Hall, Columbia, MO 65201. Email: marketp@missouri.edu

Save
  • Auer, A. H., 1987: An aid to forecasting heavy snowfall episodes. Natl. Wea. Dig., 12 , 1114.

  • Barnes, S. L., 1973: Mesoscale objective map analysis using weighted time-series observations. NOAA Tech. Memo. ERL NSSL-62, National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, OK, 60 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bennetts, D. A., and Hoskins B. J. , 1979: Conditional symmetric instability—A possible explanation for frontal rainbands. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 105 , 945962.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bennetts, D. A., and Sharp J. C. , 1982: The relevance of conditional symmetric instability to the prediction of mesoscale frontal rainbands. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 108 , 595602.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bluestein, H. B., 1993a: Principles of Kinematics and Dynamics. Synoptic–Dynamic Meteorology in Midlatitudes, Vol. I, Oxford University Press, 431 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bluestein, H. B., . 1993b: Observations and Theory of Weather Systems. Synoptic–Dynamic Meteorology in Midlatitudes, Vol. II, Oxford University Press, 594 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Browne, R. F., and Younkin R. J. , 1970: Some relationships between 850-millibar lows and heavy snow occurrences over the central and eastern United States. Mon. Wea. Rev., 98 , 399401.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Carlson, T. N., 1980: Airflow through midlatitude cyclones and the comma cloud pattern. Mon. Wea. Rev., 108 , 14981509.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Crocker, A. M., Godson W. L. , and Penner C. M. , 1947: Frontal contour charts. J. Meteor., 4 , 9599.

  • Emanuel, K. A., 1983: On assessing local CSI from atmospheric soundings. Mon. Wea. Rev., 111 , 20162033.

  • Emanuel, K. A., . 1985: Frontal circulations in the presence of small moist symmetric stability. J. Atmos. Sci., 42 , 10621071.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Godson, W. L., 1951: Synoptic properties of frontal surfaces. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 77 , 633653.

  • Keyser, D., and Shapiro M. A. , 1986: A review of the structure and dynamics of upper-level frontal zones. Mon. Wea. Rev., 114 , 452499.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Koch, S. E., DesJardins M. , and Kocin P. J. , 1983: An interactive Barnes objective map analysis scheme to use with satellite and conventional data. J. Climate Appl. Meteor., 22 , 14871503.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Martin, J. E., 1998: The structure and evolution of a continental winter cyclone. Part II: Frontal forcing for an extreme snow event. Mon. Wea. Rev., 126 , 329348.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Martin, J. E., . 1999a: Quasigeostropic forcing of ascent in the occluded sector of cyclones and the trowal airstream. Mon. Wea. Rev., 127 , 7088.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Martin, J. E., . 1999b: The separate roles of geostropic vorticity and deformation in the midlatitude occlusion process. Mon. Wea. Rev., 127 , 24042418.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moore, J. T., and Blakely P. D. , 1988: The role of frontogenetical forcing and conditional symmetric instability in the Midwest snowstorm of 30–31 January 1982. Mon. Wea. Rev., 116 , 21552171.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moore, J. T., and VanKnowe G. , 1992: The effect of jet-streak curvature on kinematic fields. Mon. Wea. Rev., 120 , 24292441.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moore, J. T., and Lambert T. E. , 1993: The use of equivalent potential vorticity to diagnose regions of conditional symmetric instability. Wea. Forecasting, 8 , 301308.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moore, J. T., Czarnetzki A. C. , and Market P. S. , 1998: Heavy precipitation associated with elevated thunderstorms formed in a convectively unstable layer aloft. Meteor. Appsl., 5 , 373384.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Murray, R., and Daniels S. M. , 1953: Transverse flow at entrance and exit to jet streams. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 79 , 236241.

  • Namias, J., and Clapp P. F. , 1949: Confluence theory of the high tropospheric jet stream. J. Meteor., 6 , 330336.

  • Nicosia, D. J., and Grumm R. H. , 1999: Mesoscale band formation in three major northeastern United States snowstorms. Wea. Forecasting, 14 , 346368.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • O'Brien, J. J., 1970: Alternative solutions to the classical vertical velocity problem. J. Appl. Meteor., 9 , 197203.

  • Penner, C. M., 1955: A three-front model for synoptic analyses. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 81 , 8991.

  • Sanders, F., and Bosart L. F. , 1985: Mesoscale structure in the megalopolitan snowstorm of 11–12 February 1983. Part I: Frontogenetical forcing and symmetric instability. J. Atmos. Sci., 42 , 10501061.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Saucier, W. J., 1955: Principles of Meteorological Analysis. University of Chicago Press, 438 pp.

  • Schultz, D. M., and Schumacher P. N. , 1999: The use and misuse of conditional symmetric instability. Mon. Wea. Rev., 127 , 27092732.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Seltzer, M. A., Passarelli R. E. , and Emanuel K. A. , 1985: The possible role of symmetric instability in the formation of precipitation bands. J. Atmos. Sci., 42 , 22072219.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Steigerwald, H., 1986: Deformation zones and heavy precipitation. Natl. Wea. Dig., 11 , 1520.

  • Thorpe, A. J., and Emanuel K. A. , 1985: Frontogenesis in the presence of small stability to slantwise convection. J. Atmos. Sci., 42 , 18091824.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Uccellini, L. W., 1976: Operational diagnostic applications of isentropic analysis. Natl. Wea. Dig., 1 , 412.

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 663 82 13
PDF Downloads 335 43 11