WRF Forecasts of Great Plains Nocturnal Low-Level Jet-Driven MCSs. Part II: Differences between Strongly and Weakly Forced Low-Level Jet Environments

Brian J. Squitieri Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

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William A. Gallus Jr. Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

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Abstract

The classic Great Plains southerly low-level jet (LLJ) is a primary factor in sustaining nocturnal convection. This study compares convection-allowing WRF forecasts of LLJ events associated with MCSs in strongly and weakly forced synoptic environments. The depth of the LLJs and magnitude, altitude, and times of the LLJ peak wind were evaluated in observations and WRF forecasts for 31 cases as well as for case subsets of strongly and weakly forced synoptic regimes. LLJs in strongly forced regimes were stronger, deeper, and peaked at higher altitudes and at earlier times compared to weakly forced cases. Mean error MCS-centered composites of WRF forecasts versus RUC analyses were derived at MCS initiation time for the LLJ atmospheric water vapor mixing ratio, LLJ total wind magnitude, convergence, most unstable convective available potential energy (MUCAPE), and most unstable convective inhibition (MUCIN). In most configurations, simulated MCSs in strongly and weakly forced regimes initiated to the north and east of observations, generally in a region where LLJ moisture, MUCAPE, and MUCIN fields were forecast well, with larger errors outside this region. However, WSM6 simulations for strongly forced cases showed a southward displacement in MCS initiation, where a combination of ambient environmental factors and microphysics impacts may simultaneously play a role in the location of forecast MCS initiation. Strongly forced observed and simulated MCSs initiated west of the LLJ axis and moved eastward into the LLJ, while observed and simulated MCSs in weakly forced environments traversed the termini of the LLJ. A northward bias existed for simulated MCS initiation and LLJ termini for weakly forced regimes.

Corresponding author address: Brian Squitieri, Iowa State University, 3018 Agronomy Hall, Ames, IA 50011. E-mail: brianjs@iastate.edu

Abstract

The classic Great Plains southerly low-level jet (LLJ) is a primary factor in sustaining nocturnal convection. This study compares convection-allowing WRF forecasts of LLJ events associated with MCSs in strongly and weakly forced synoptic environments. The depth of the LLJs and magnitude, altitude, and times of the LLJ peak wind were evaluated in observations and WRF forecasts for 31 cases as well as for case subsets of strongly and weakly forced synoptic regimes. LLJs in strongly forced regimes were stronger, deeper, and peaked at higher altitudes and at earlier times compared to weakly forced cases. Mean error MCS-centered composites of WRF forecasts versus RUC analyses were derived at MCS initiation time for the LLJ atmospheric water vapor mixing ratio, LLJ total wind magnitude, convergence, most unstable convective available potential energy (MUCAPE), and most unstable convective inhibition (MUCIN). In most configurations, simulated MCSs in strongly and weakly forced regimes initiated to the north and east of observations, generally in a region where LLJ moisture, MUCAPE, and MUCIN fields were forecast well, with larger errors outside this region. However, WSM6 simulations for strongly forced cases showed a southward displacement in MCS initiation, where a combination of ambient environmental factors and microphysics impacts may simultaneously play a role in the location of forecast MCS initiation. Strongly forced observed and simulated MCSs initiated west of the LLJ axis and moved eastward into the LLJ, while observed and simulated MCSs in weakly forced environments traversed the termini of the LLJ. A northward bias existed for simulated MCS initiation and LLJ termini for weakly forced regimes.

Corresponding author address: Brian Squitieri, Iowa State University, 3018 Agronomy Hall, Ames, IA 50011. E-mail: brianjs@iastate.edu
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