Fields of divergence, vertical motion, stability, and surface pressure tendency are examined at 3 h intervals for the first regional scale AVE-SESAME '79 (Atmospheric Variability Experiment—Severe Environmental Storms and Mesoscale Experiment) day. Two areas of severe storms formed during the period from 1200 GMT 10 April through 1200 GMT 11 April. The Red River Valley outbreak began during the afternoon of 10 April, while a second area formed in southwestern Texas during the early evening hours. Results show the rapid changes in environmental conditions associated with these two storm areas.
The propagation of an upper level jet streak into the region was a major factor in producing the Red River Valley outbreak. This streak was associated with the formation of a strong low-level jet and a small-scale surface pressure perturbation. The sudden development of a strong upper tropospheric wind maximum over Oklahoma and Kansas corresponded with major changes in kinematic parameters at that level. Instability over the Red River Valley was released by strong upward motion producing intense convection.
Similar features were responsible for the storms in southwestern Texas. Although this area was quite unstable, forcing mechanisms appear somewhat weaker than in the earlier outbreak.