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An Observational Study of Mesoscale Convective Systems with Heavy Rainfall over the Korean Peninsula

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  • 1 Atmospheric Sciences Program, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
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Abstract

A heavy rainfall event induced by mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) occurred over the middle Korean Peninsula from 25 to 27 July 1996. This heavy rainfall caused a large loss of life and property damage as a result of flash floods and landslides. An observational study was conducted using Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) data from 0930 UTC 26 July to 0303 UTC 27 July 1996. Dominant synoptic features in this case had many similarities to those in previous studies, such as the presence of a quasi-stationary frontal system, a weak upper-level trough, sufficient moisture transportation by a low-level jet from a tropical storm landfall, strong potential and convective instability, and strong vertical wind shear. The thermodynamic characteristics and wind shear presented favorable conditions for a heavy rainfall occurrence. The early convective cells in the MCSs initiated over the coastal area, facilitated by the mesoscale boundaries of the land–sea contrast, rain–no rain regions, saturated–unsaturated soils, and steep horizontal pressure and thermal gradients. Two MCSs passed through the heavy rainfall regions during the investigation period. The first MCS initiated at 1000 UTC 26 July and had the characteristics of a supercell storm with small amounts of precipitation, the appearance of a mesocyclone with tilting storm, a rear-inflow jet at the midlevel of the storm, and fast forward propagation. The second MCS initiated over the upstream area of the first MCS at 1800 UTC 26 July and had the characteristics of a multicell storm, such as a broken areal-type squall line, slow or quasi-stationary backward propagation, heavy rainfall in a concentrated area due to the merging of the convective storms, and a stagnated cluster system. These systems merged and stagnated because their movement was blocked by the Taebaek Mountain Range, and they continued to develop because of the vertical wind shear resulting from a low-level easterly inflow.

Corresponding author address: Dong Kyou Lee, Atmospheric Science Program, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, Sinrimdong, Kwanakgu, Seoul 151-742, South Korea. Email: dklee@snu.ac.kr

Abstract

A heavy rainfall event induced by mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) occurred over the middle Korean Peninsula from 25 to 27 July 1996. This heavy rainfall caused a large loss of life and property damage as a result of flash floods and landslides. An observational study was conducted using Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) data from 0930 UTC 26 July to 0303 UTC 27 July 1996. Dominant synoptic features in this case had many similarities to those in previous studies, such as the presence of a quasi-stationary frontal system, a weak upper-level trough, sufficient moisture transportation by a low-level jet from a tropical storm landfall, strong potential and convective instability, and strong vertical wind shear. The thermodynamic characteristics and wind shear presented favorable conditions for a heavy rainfall occurrence. The early convective cells in the MCSs initiated over the coastal area, facilitated by the mesoscale boundaries of the land–sea contrast, rain–no rain regions, saturated–unsaturated soils, and steep horizontal pressure and thermal gradients. Two MCSs passed through the heavy rainfall regions during the investigation period. The first MCS initiated at 1000 UTC 26 July and had the characteristics of a supercell storm with small amounts of precipitation, the appearance of a mesocyclone with tilting storm, a rear-inflow jet at the midlevel of the storm, and fast forward propagation. The second MCS initiated over the upstream area of the first MCS at 1800 UTC 26 July and had the characteristics of a multicell storm, such as a broken areal-type squall line, slow or quasi-stationary backward propagation, heavy rainfall in a concentrated area due to the merging of the convective storms, and a stagnated cluster system. These systems merged and stagnated because their movement was blocked by the Taebaek Mountain Range, and they continued to develop because of the vertical wind shear resulting from a low-level easterly inflow.

Corresponding author address: Dong Kyou Lee, Atmospheric Science Program, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, Sinrimdong, Kwanakgu, Seoul 151-742, South Korea. Email: dklee@snu.ac.kr

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