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Roger Edwards, Harold E. Brooks, and Hannah Cohn

Abstract

U.S. tornado records form the basis for a variety of meteorological, climatological, and disaster-risk analyses, but how reliable are they in light of changing standards for rating, as with the 2007 transition of Fujita (F) to enhanced Fujita (EF) damage scales? To what extent are recorded tornado metrics subject to such influences that may be nonmeteorological in nature? While addressing these questions with utmost thoroughness is too large of a task for any one study, and may not be possible given the many variables and uncertainties involved, some variables that are recorded in large samples are ripe for new examination. We assess basic tornado-path characteristics—damage rating, length, width, and occurrence time, as well as some combined and derived measures—for a 24-yr period of constant path-width recording standard that also coincides with National Weather Service modernization and the WSR-88D deployment era. The middle of that period (in both time and approximate tornado counts) crosses the official switch from F to EF. At least minor shifts in all assessed path variables are associated directly with that change, contrary to the intent of EF implementation. Major and essentially stepwise expansion of tornadic path widths occurred immediately upon EF usage, and widths have expanded still farther within the EF era. We also document lesser increases in pathlengths and in tornadoes rated at least EF1 in comparison with EF0. These apparently secular changes in the tornado data can impact research dependent on bulk tornado-path characteristics and damage-assessment results.

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Hans Van de Vyver, Bert Van Schaeybroeck, Rozemien De Troch, Lesley De Cruz, Rafiq Hamdi, Cecille Villanueva-Birriel, Philippe Marbaix, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Hendrik Wouters, Sam Vanden Broucke, Nicole P. M. van Lipzig, Sébastien Doutreloup, Coraline Wyard, Chloé Scholzen, Xavier Fettweis, Steven Caluwaerts, and Piet Termonia

Abstract

Subdaily precipitation extremes are high-impact events that can result in flash floods, sewer system overload, or landslides. Several studies have reported an intensification of projected short-duration extreme rainfall in a warmer future climate. Traditionally, regional climate models (RCMs) are run at a coarse resolution using deep-convection parameterization for these extreme events. As computational resources are continuously ramping up, these models are run at convection-permitting resolution, thereby partly resolving the small-scale precipitation events explicitly. To date, a comprehensive evaluation of convection-permitting models is still missing. We propose an evaluation strategy for simulated subdaily rainfall extremes that summarizes the overall RCM performance. More specifically, the following metrics are addressed: the seasonal/diurnal cycle, temperature and humidity dependency, temporal scaling, and spatiotemporal clustering. The aim of this paper is as follows: (i) to provide a statistical modeling framework for some of the metrics, based on extreme value analysis, (ii) to apply the evaluation metrics to a microensemble of convection-permitting RCM simulations over Belgium against high-frequency observations, and (iii) to investigate the added value of convection-permitting scales with respect to coarser 12-km resolution. We find that convection-permitting models improved precipitation extremes on shorter time scales (i.e., hourly or 2 hourly), but not on 6–24-h time scales. Some metrics such as the diurnal cycle or the Clausius–Clapeyron rate are improved by convection-permitting models, whereas the seasonal cycle appears to be robust across spatial scales. On the other hand, the spatial dependence is poorly represented at both convection-permitting scales and coarser scales. Our framework provides perspectives for improving high-resolution atmospheric numerical modeling and datasets for hydrological applications.

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Xiantong Liu, Huiqi Li, Sheng Hu, Qilin Wan, Hui Xiao, Tengfei Zheng, Minghua Li, Langming Ye, Zheyong Guo, Yao Wang, and Zhaochao Yan

Abstract

According to the high-accuracy linear shape–slope (μ–Λ) relationship observed by several two-dimensional video disdrometers (2DVD) in South China, a high-precision and fast solution method of the gamma (Γ) raindrop size distribution (RSD) function based on the zeroth-order moment (M 0) and the third-order moment (M 3) of RSD has been proposed. The 0-moment M 0 and 3-moment M 3 of RSD can be easily calculated from rain mass mixing ratio Q r and total number concentration N tr simulated by the two-moment (2M) microphysical scheme, respectively. Three typical heavy-rainfall processes and all RSD samples observed during 2019 in South China were selected to verify the accuracy of the method. Relative to the current widely used exponential RSD with a fixed shape parameter of zero in the 2M microphysical scheme, the Γ RSD function using the linear constrained gamma (C-G) method agreed better with the Γ-fit RSD from 2DVD observations. The characteristic precipitation parameters (e.g., rain rate, M 2, M 6, and M 9) obtained by the proposed method are generally consistent with the parameters calculated by Γ-fit RSD from 2DVD observations. The proposed method has effectively solved the problem that the shape parameter in the 2M microphysical scheme is set to a constant, and therefore the Γ RSD functions are closer to the observations and have obviously smaller errors. This method has a good potential to be applied to 2M microphysical schemes to improve the simulation of heavy precipitation in South China, but it also paves the way for in-depth applications of radar data in numerical weather prediction models.

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Ying-Hui Jia, Fang-Fang Li, Kun Fang, Guang-Qian Wang, and Jun Qiu

Abstract

Recently, strong sound wave was proposed to enhance precipitation. The theoretical basis of this proposal has not been effectively studied either experimentally or theoretically. On the basis of the microscopic parameters of atmospheric cloud physics, this paper solved the complex nonlinear differential equation to show the movement characteristics of cloud droplets under the action of sound waves. The motion process of an individual cloud droplet in a cloud layer in the acoustic field is discussed as well as the relative motion between two cloud droplets. The effects of different particle sizes and sound field characteristics on particle motion and collision are studied to analyze the dynamic effects of thunder-level sound waves on cloud droplets. The amplitude of velocity variation has positive correlation with sound pressure level (SPL) and negative correlation with the frequency of the surrounding sound field. Under the action of low-frequency sound waves with sufficient intensity, individual cloud droplets could be forced to oscillate significantly. A droplet smaller than 40 μm can be easily driven by sound waves of 50 Hz and 123.4 dB. The calculation of the collision process of two droplets reveals that the disorder of motion for polydisperse droplets is intensified, resulting in the broadening of the collision time range and spatial range. When the acoustic frequency is less than 100 Hz (at 123.4 dB) or the SPL is greater than 117.4 dB (at 50 Hz), the sound wave can affect the collision of cloud droplets significantly. This study provides a theoretical perspective of the acoustic effect on the microphysics of atmospheric clouds.

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Hilde Haakenstad, Øyvind Breivik, Birgitte R. Furevik, Magnar Reistad, Patrik Bohlinger, and Ole Johan Aarnes

Abstract

The 3-km Norwegian Reanalysis (NORA3) is a 15-yr mesoscale-permitting atmospheric hindcast of the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea, and the Barents Sea. With a horizontal resolution of 3 km, the nonhydrostatic numerical weather prediction model HARMONIE–AROME runs explicitly resolved deep convection and yields hindcast fields that realistically downscale the ERA5 reanalysis. The wind field is much improved relative to its host analysis, in particular in mountainous areas and along the improved grid-resolving coastlines. NORA3 also performs much better than the earlier hydrostatic 10-km Norwegian Hindcast Archive (NORA10) in complex terrain. NORA3 recreates the detailed structures of mesoscale cyclones with sharp gradients in wind and with clear frontal structures, which are particularly important when modeling polar lows. In extratropical windstorms, NORA3 exhibits significantly higher maximum wind speeds and compares much better to observed maximum wind than do NORA10 and ERA5. The activity of the model is much more realistic than that of NORA10 and ERA5, both over the ocean and in complex terrain.

Open access
Domingo Muñoz-Esparza, Hyeyum Hailey Shin, Teddie L. Keller, Kyoko Ikeda, Robert D. Sharman, Matthias Steiner, Jeff Rawdon, and Gary Pokodner

Abstract

Takeoff and landing maneuvers can be particularly hazardous at airports surrounded by complex terrain. To address this situation, the Federal Aviation Administration has developed a precipitous terrain classification as a way to impose more restrictive terrain clearances in the vicinity of complex terrain and to mitigate possible altimeter errors and pilot control problems experienced while executing instrument approach procedures. The current precipitous point value (PPV) algorithm relies on the terrain characteristics within a local area of 2 n mi (3.7 km) in radius and is therefore static in time. In this work, we investigate the role of meteorological effects leading to potential aviation hazards over complex terrain, namely, turbulence, altimeter-setting errors, and density-altitude deviations. To that end, we combine observations with high-resolution numerical weather forecasts within a 2° × 2° region over the Rocky Mountains in Colorado containing three airports that are surrounded by precipitous terrain. Both available turbulence reports and model’s turbulence forecasts show little correlation with the PPV algorithm for the region analyzed, indicating that the static terrain characteristics cannot generally be used to reliably capture hazardous low-level turbulence events. Altimeter-setting errors and density-altitude effects are also found to be only very weakly correlated with the PPV algorithm. Altimeter-setting errors contribute to hazardous conditions mainly during cold seasons, driven by synoptic weather systems, whereas density-altitude effects are on the contrary predominantly present during the spring and summer months and follow a very well-marked diurnal evolution modulated by surface radiative effects. These findings demonstrate the effectiveness of high-resolution weather forecast information in determining aviation-relevant hazardous conditions over complex terrain.

Open access
Masaru Inatsu, Sho Kawazoe, and Masato Mori

Abstract

This paper showed the frequency of local-scale heavy winter snowfall in Hokkaido, Japan, its historical change, and its response to global warming using self-organizing maps (SOM) of synoptic-scale sea level pressure anomaly. Heavy snowfall days were here defined as days on which the snowfall exceeded 10 mm in water equivalent. It was shown that the SOMs can be grouped into three categories for heavy snowfall days: 1) a passage of extratropical cyclones to the south of Hokkaido, 2) a pressure pattern between the Siberian high and the Aleutian low, and 3) a low pressure anomaly just to the east of Hokkaido. Groups 1 and 2 were associated with heavy snowfall in Hiroo (located in southeastern Hokkaido) and in Iwamizawa (western Hokkaido), respectively, and heavy snowfall in Sapporo (western Hokkaido) was related to group 3. The large-ensemble historical simulation reproduced the observed increasing trend in group 2, and future projections revealed that group 2 was related to a negative phase of the western Pacific pattern and that the frequency of this group would increase in the future. Heavy snowfall days associated with SOM group 2 would also increase as a result of the increase in water vapor and preferable weather patterns in a globally warming climate, in contrast to the decrease of heavy snowfall days at other sites associated with SOM group 1.

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Jing Chen, Ji Wang, Runsheng Lin, and Li Lu

Abstract

The outdoor events of the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics will be held in the mountain areas of Beijing–Zhangjiakou, North China, where there is a complete reliance on artificial snow production owing to the dry and cold weather conditions. To assess how favorable the meteorological conditions are to snowmaking at the mountain venues, we reconstructed the daily wet-bulb temperature by adopting the thin-plate smoothing spline function method, and then we assessed the potential number of snowmaking days at eight weather stations (928–2098 m MSL) from October to the next April (i.e., the ski season) during the period 1978–2017. Results showed that artificial snow production would have been possible on 121 (±14) to 171 (±12) days on average at the stations with the increases of altitude, and the number of days decreased at rates of 4.3–5.1 days decade−1 across four decades of the study period. The cause of the decrease was the warming trend, which affected the number of days in low-altitude sites simultaneously, but the reduction was delayed with increased elevation. At monthly scale, the number of snowmaking days was robust in wintertime but reduced in other months of the ski season, particularly in March in more recent subperiods at high-altitude stations, which was determined by the increase in high values of daily mean wet-bulb temperature. Further improvements in assessing snowmaking conditions require detailed microclimatic studies to reduce the uncertainties caused by meteorological conditions as well as combination with model-based methods to determine potential future changes.

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Eric P. Kelsey and Eve Cinquino

Abstract

We analyze how winter thaw events (TE; T > 0°C) are changing on the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire, using three metrics: the number of TE, number of thaw hours, and number of thaw degree-hours for temperature and dewpoint for winters from 1935/36 to 2019/20. The impact of temperature-only TE and dewpoint TE on snow depth are compared to quantify the different impacts of sensible-only heating and sensible-and-latent heating, respectively. Results reveal that temperature and dewpoint TE for all metrics increased at a statistically significant rate (p < 0.05) over the full time periods studied for temperature (1935/36–2019/20) and dewpoint (1939/40–2019/20). Notably, around 2000/01, the positive trends increased for most variables, including dewpoint-thaw degree-hours that increased by 82.11 degree-hours decade−1 during 2000–20, which is approximately 5 times as faster as the 1939–2020 rate of 17.70 degree-hours decade−1. Furthermore, a clear upward shift occurred around 1990 in the lowest winter values of thaw hours and thaw degree-hours—winters now have a higher baseline amount of thaw than before 1990. Snow-depth loss during dewpoint TE (0.36 cm h−1) occurred more than 2 times as fast as temperature-only TE (0.14 cm h−1). With winters projected to warm throughout the twenty-first century in the northeastern United States, it is expected that the trends in winter thaw events, and the sensible and latent energy that they bring, will continue to rise and lead to more frequent winter flooding, fewer days of good quality snow for winter recreation, and changes in ecosystem function.

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Zunya Wang, Yanju Liu, Guofu Wang, and Qiang Zhang

Abstract

It is argued that the occurrence of cold events decreases under the background of global warming. However, from the mid-1990s to the early 2010s, northern China experienced a period of increasing occurrence of low temperature extremes (LTE). Factors responsible for this increase of LTE are investigated in this analysis. The results show that the interdecadal variation of the winter mean temperature over mid- and high-latitude Eurasia acts as an important thermal background. It is characterized by two dominant modes, the “consistent cooling” pattern and the “warm high-latitude Eurasia and cold midlatitude Eurasia” pattern, from the mid-1990s to the early 2010s. The two patterns jointly provide a cooling background for the increase of LTE in northern China. Meanwhile, though the interdecadal variation of the Arctic Oscillation (AO), Ural blocking (UB), and Siberian high (SH) are all highly correlated with the occurrence of LTE in northern China, the AO is found to play a dominant role. On one hand, the AO directly affects the occurrence of LTE because of its dynamic structure; on the other hand, it takes an indirect effect by affecting the intensity of UB and SH. Further analyses show that the winter temperature in mid- and high-latitude Eurasia and the AO are independent factors that influence the increase of LTE in northern China from the mid-1990s to the early 2010s.

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