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Diagnosing Coupled Jet-Streak Circulations for a Northern Plains Snow Band from the Operational Nested-Grid Model

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  • 1 State University of New York at Albany, New York
  • | 2 Meteorological Operations Division, National Meteorological Center, Camp Springs, Maryland
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Abstract

On 17 March 1989, moderate to heavy snow developed in a 100- to 200-km-wide band extending from South Dakota to northern Michigan. The 4- to 8-inch snowfall within this band was not associated with major cyclogenesis, and developed 500 to 600 km north of a stationary surface front. A diagnostic analysis based on an application of the General Meteorological Package (GEMPAK 5.0) to a numerical simulation from the operational nested-grid model (NGM) is utilized to show that the development of this snow band is related to the interaction of two upper-tropospheric jet streaks and their associated transverse circulation patterns. The eastward propagation of a jet streak from the West Coast toward the middle United States and to the south of a slower-moving jet along the U.S.-Canadian border led to a merger of the ascent maxima associated with the direct and indirect circulations of the northern and southern jets, respectively. The snow band developed as the ascending branches of the jet-streak circulation patterns merged, with the eastward propagation of the heaviest snow linked to the motion of the coupled circulation pattern. The study also demonstrates the usefulness of the operational NGM for providing the higher-resolution datasets required to relate the evolution of jet-streak circulation patterns to the development of mesoscale precipitation bands.

Abstract

On 17 March 1989, moderate to heavy snow developed in a 100- to 200-km-wide band extending from South Dakota to northern Michigan. The 4- to 8-inch snowfall within this band was not associated with major cyclogenesis, and developed 500 to 600 km north of a stationary surface front. A diagnostic analysis based on an application of the General Meteorological Package (GEMPAK 5.0) to a numerical simulation from the operational nested-grid model (NGM) is utilized to show that the development of this snow band is related to the interaction of two upper-tropospheric jet streaks and their associated transverse circulation patterns. The eastward propagation of a jet streak from the West Coast toward the middle United States and to the south of a slower-moving jet along the U.S.-Canadian border led to a merger of the ascent maxima associated with the direct and indirect circulations of the northern and southern jets, respectively. The snow band developed as the ascending branches of the jet-streak circulation patterns merged, with the eastward propagation of the heaviest snow linked to the motion of the coupled circulation pattern. The study also demonstrates the usefulness of the operational NGM for providing the higher-resolution datasets required to relate the evolution of jet-streak circulation patterns to the development of mesoscale precipitation bands.

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