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Generation of Extreme Precipitation over the Southeastern Tibetan Plateau Associated with TC Rashmi (2008)

Wei YeaState Key Laboratory of Severe Weather, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China

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Ying LiaState Key Laboratory of Severe Weather, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China

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Da-Lin ZhangaState Key Laboratory of Severe Weather, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China
bDepartment of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland

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Abstract

In this study, the development of an extreme precipitation event along the southeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) by the approach of Tropical Cyclone (TC) Rashmi (2008) from the Bay of Bengal is examined using a global reanalysis and all available observations. Results show the importance of an anomalous southerly flow, resulting from the merging of Rashmi into a meridionally deep trough at the western periphery of a subtropical high, in steering the storm and transporting tropical warm–moist air, thereby supplying necessary moisture for precipitation production over the TP. A mesoscale data analysis reveals that (i) the Rashmi vortex maintained its TC identity during its northward movement in the warm sector with weak-gradient flows; (ii) the extreme precipitation event occurred under potentially stable conditions; (iii) topographical uplifting of the southerly warm–moist air, enhanced by the approaching vortex with some degree of slantwise instability, led to the development of heavy to extreme precipitation along the southeastern margin of the TP; and (iv) the most influential uplifting of the intense vortex flows carrying ample moisture over steep topography favored the generation of the record-breaking daily snowfall of 98 mm (in water depth), and daily precipitation of 87 mm with rain–snow–rain changeovers at two high-elevation stations, respectively. The extreme precipitation and phase changeovers could be uncovered by an unusual upper-air sounding that shows a profound saturated layer from the surface to upper troposphere with a moist adiabatic upper 100-hPa layer and a bottom 100-hPa melting layer. The results appear to have important implications to the forecast of TC-related heavy precipitation over high mountains.

Significance Statement

This study attempts to gain insight into the multiscale dynamical processes leading to the development of an extreme precipitation event over the southeastern margin of the Tibet Plateau as a Bay of Bengal tropical cyclone (TC) approached. Results show (i) the importance of an anomalous southerly flow with a wide zonal span in steering the relatively large-sized TC and transporting necessary moisture into the region; and (ii) the subsequent uplifting of the warm and moist TC vortex by steep topography, producing the extreme precipitation event under potentially stable conditions, especially the record-breaking daily snowfall of 98 mm (in water depth). The results have important implications to the forecast of TC-related heavy precipitation over the Tibet Plateau and other high mountainous regions.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding authors: Da-Lin Zhang, dalin@umd.edu; Ying Li, yli@cma.gov.cn

Abstract

In this study, the development of an extreme precipitation event along the southeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) by the approach of Tropical Cyclone (TC) Rashmi (2008) from the Bay of Bengal is examined using a global reanalysis and all available observations. Results show the importance of an anomalous southerly flow, resulting from the merging of Rashmi into a meridionally deep trough at the western periphery of a subtropical high, in steering the storm and transporting tropical warm–moist air, thereby supplying necessary moisture for precipitation production over the TP. A mesoscale data analysis reveals that (i) the Rashmi vortex maintained its TC identity during its northward movement in the warm sector with weak-gradient flows; (ii) the extreme precipitation event occurred under potentially stable conditions; (iii) topographical uplifting of the southerly warm–moist air, enhanced by the approaching vortex with some degree of slantwise instability, led to the development of heavy to extreme precipitation along the southeastern margin of the TP; and (iv) the most influential uplifting of the intense vortex flows carrying ample moisture over steep topography favored the generation of the record-breaking daily snowfall of 98 mm (in water depth), and daily precipitation of 87 mm with rain–snow–rain changeovers at two high-elevation stations, respectively. The extreme precipitation and phase changeovers could be uncovered by an unusual upper-air sounding that shows a profound saturated layer from the surface to upper troposphere with a moist adiabatic upper 100-hPa layer and a bottom 100-hPa melting layer. The results appear to have important implications to the forecast of TC-related heavy precipitation over high mountains.

Significance Statement

This study attempts to gain insight into the multiscale dynamical processes leading to the development of an extreme precipitation event over the southeastern margin of the Tibet Plateau as a Bay of Bengal tropical cyclone (TC) approached. Results show (i) the importance of an anomalous southerly flow with a wide zonal span in steering the relatively large-sized TC and transporting necessary moisture into the region; and (ii) the subsequent uplifting of the warm and moist TC vortex by steep topography, producing the extreme precipitation event under potentially stable conditions, especially the record-breaking daily snowfall of 98 mm (in water depth). The results have important implications to the forecast of TC-related heavy precipitation over the Tibet Plateau and other high mountainous regions.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding authors: Da-Lin Zhang, dalin@umd.edu; Ying Li, yli@cma.gov.cn
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