Browse

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 11 items for :

  • Review Articles in Monthly Weather Review x
  • Refine by Access: All Content x
Clear All
Clifford Mass and Brigid Dotson

Abstract

The northwest United States is visited frequently by strong midlatitude cyclones that can produce hurricane-force winds and extensive damage. This article reviews these storms, beginning with a survey of the major events of the past century. A climatology of strong windstorms is presented for the area from southern Oregon to northern Washington State and is used to create synoptic composites that show the large-scale evolution associated with such storms. A recent event, the Hanukkah Eve Storm of December 2006, is described in detail, with particular attention given to the impact of the bent-back front/trough and temporal changes in vertical stability and structure. The discussion section examines the general role of the bent-back trough, the interactions of such storms with terrain, and the applicability of the “sting jet” conceptual model. A conceptual model of the evolution of Northwest windstorm events is presented.

Full access
Tammy M. Weckwerth and David B. Parsons

Abstract

The International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) included four complementary research components: quantitative precipitation forecasting, convection initiation, atmospheric boundary layer processes, and instrumentation. This special issue introductory paper will review the current state of knowledge on surface-forced convection initiation and then describe some of the outstanding issues in convection initiation that partially motivated IHOP_2002. Subsequent papers in this special issue will illustrate the value of combining varied and complementary datasets to study convection initiation in order to address the outstanding issues discussed in this paper and new questions that arose from IHOP_2002 observations.

The review will focus on convection initiation by boundaries that are prevalent in the U.S. southern Great Plains. Boundary layer circulations, which are sometimes precursors to deep convective development, are clearly observed by radar as reflectivity fine lines and/or convergence in Doppler velocity. The corresponding thermodynamic distribution, particularly the moisture field, is not as readily measured. During IHOP_2002, a variety of sensors capable of measuring atmospheric water vapor were brought together in an effort to sample the three-dimensional time-varying moisture field and determine its impact on forecasting convection initiation. The strategy included examining convection initiation with targeted observations aimed at sampling regions forecast to be ripe for initiation, primarily along frontal zones, drylines, and their mergers.

A key aspect of these investigations was the combination of varied moisture measurements with the detailed observations of the wind field, as presented in many of the subsequent papers in this issue. For example, the high-resolution measurements are being used to better understand the role of misocyclones on convection initiation. The analyses are starting to elucidate the value of new datasets, including satellite products and radar refractivity retrievals. Data assimilation studies using some of the state-of-the-art datasets from IHOP_2002 are already proving to be quite promising.

Full access
David M. Schultz

Abstract

The conceptual model of a classical surface-based cold front consists of a sharp temperature decrease coincident with a pressure trough and a distinct wind shift at the surface. Many cold fronts, however, do not conform to this model—time series at a single surface station may possess a pressure trough and wind shift in the warm air preceding the cold front (hereafter called a prefrontal trough and prefrontal wind shift, respectively). Although many authors have recognized these prefrontal features previously, a review of the responsible mechanisms has not been performed to date. This paper presents such a review. Ten disparate mechanisms with different frontal structures have been identified from the previous literature. These mechanisms include those external to the front (i.e., those not directly associated with the cold front itself): synoptic-scale forcing, interaction with lee troughs/drylines, interaction with fronts in the mid- and upper troposphere, and frontogenesis associated with inhomogeneities in the prefrontal air. Mechanisms internal to the front (i.e., those directly associated with the structure and dynamics of the front) include the following: surface friction, frontogenesis acting on alongfront temperature gradients, moist processes, descent of air, ascent of air at the front, and generation of prefrontal bores/gravity waves. Given the gaps in our knowledge of the structure, evolution, and dynamics of surface cold fronts, this paper closes with an admonition for improving the links between theory, observations, and modeling to advance understanding and develop better conceptual models of cold fronts, with the goal of improving both scientific understanding and operational forecasting.

Full access
Paul M. Markowski

Abstract

Nearly 50 years of observations of hook echoes and their associated rear-flank downdrafts (RFDs) are reviewed. Relevant theoretical and numerical simulation results also are discussed. For over 20 years, the hook echo and RFD have been hypothesized to be critical in the tornadogenesis process. Yet direct observations within hook echoes and RFDs have been relatively scarce. Furthermore, the role of the hook echo and RFD in tornadogenesis remains poorly understood. Despite many strong similarities between simulated and observed storms, some possibly important observations within hook echoes and RFDs have not been reproduced in three-dimensional numerical models.

Full access
David M. Schultz and Philip N. Schumacher

Abstract

A commonly employed explanation for single- and multiple-banded clouds and precipitation in the extratropics is slantwise convection due to the release of moist symmetric instability (MSI), of which one type is conditional symmetric instability (CSI). This article presents a review of CSI with the intent of synthesizing the results from previous observational, theoretical, and modeling studies. This review contends that CSI as a diagnostic tool to assess slantwise convection has been, and continues to be, misused and overused. Drawing parallels to an ingredients-based methodology for forecasting deep, moist convection that requires the simultaneous presence of instability, moisture, and lift, some of the misapplications of CSI can be clarified. Many of these pitfalls have been noted by earlier authors, but are, nevertheless, often understated, misinterpreted, or neglected by later researchers and forecasters. Topics include the evaluation of the potential for slantwise convection, the relationship between frontogenesis and MSI, the coexistence of moist gravitational instability and MSI, the nature of banding associated with slantwise convection, and the diagnosis of slantwise convection using mesoscale numerical models. The review concludes with suggested directions for future observational, theoretical, and diagnostic investigation.

Full access
Dayton G. Vincent

Abstract

The circulation features associated with the South Pacific convergence zone (SPCZ) and its accompanying cloud band are reviewed and discussed. The paper focuses on the following topics: location, structure, and characteristics of the SPCZ; theories and observations concerning its existence; the significance and scope of the SPCZ in global-scale circulation patterns; quasi-periodic changes in its location and strength; and synoptic-scale features within its regional influence (e.g., cyclones, subtropical jets). It concludes with some challenging problems for the future.

Full access
Roland A. Madden and Paul R. Julian

Abstract

Observational aspects of the 40–50-day oscillation are reviewed. The oscillation is the result of large-scale circulation cells oriented in the equatorial plane that move eastward from at least the Indian Ocean to the central Pacific. Anomalies in zonal winds and the velocity potential in the upper troposphere often propagate the full circumference of the globe. Related, complex convective regions also show an eastward movement. There is a zonally symmetric component to the oscillation. It is manifest in changes in surface pressure and in the relative atmospheric angular momentum. The oscillation is an important factor in the timing of active and break phases of the Indian and Australian monsoons. It affects ocean waves, currents, and air-sea interaction. The oscillation was particularly active during the First GARP (Global Atmospheric Research Program) Global Experiment year, and some features that were evident during the Monsoon Experiment are described.

Full access
John Molinari and Michael Dudek

Abstract

Current approaches for incorporating cumulus convection into mesoscale numerical models are divided into three groups. The traditional approach utilizes cumulus parameterization at convectively unstable points and explicit (nonparameterized) condensation at convectively stable points, The fully explicit approach uses explicit methods regardless of stability. The hybrid approach parameterizes convective scale updrafts and downdrafts, but “detrains” a fraction of parameterized cloud and precipitation particles to the grid scale. This allows the path and phase changes of such particles to be explicitly predicted over subsequent time steps.

The traditional approach provides the only alternative for numerical models with grid spacing too large to resolve mesoscale structure. As grid spacing falls below 50 km, the traditional approach becomes increasingly likely to violate fundamental scale-separation requirements of parameterization, particularly if mesoscale organization of convection is parameterized as well. The fully explicit approach has no such limits, but it has repeatedly failed in mesoscale models in the presence of large convective instability. Although it is preferable under certain specialized circumstances, the fully explicit approach cannot provide a general solution for models with grid spacing above 5–10 km.

The hybrid approach most cleanly separates convective-scale motions from the slow growth, fallout, and phase changes of detrained hydrometeors that produces mesoscale organization of convection. It is argued that this characteristic removes the need to parameterize the mesoscale and thus reduces the scale-separation problems that may arise when the traditional approach is used. The hybrid approach provides in principle the preferred solution for mesoscale models, though such promise has yet to be fully realized.

In the absence of large rotation, the fundamental assumptions of cumulus parameterization begin to break down once grid spacing falls below 20–25 km. For models with such resolution, the time scale of the convection being parameterized approaches the characteristic time scale of the grid, and parameterized and unparameterized convective clouds often exist simultaneously in a grid column. Under such ambiguous circumstances, successful simulations have been produced only because parameterized convection rapidly gives way in the, model to its grid-scale counterpart. It is essential to understand the interactions between implicit and explicit clouds that produce this transition, and whether they represent physical processes in nature, before cumulus parameterization can be widely used in such high-resolution models. In a broader sense, more detailed analysis of why convective parameterizations succeed and fall is needed.

Full access
Andrew Staniforth and Jean Côté

Abstract

The semi-Lagrangian methodology is described for a hierarchy of applications (passive advection, forced advection, and coupled sets of equations) of increasing complexity, in one, two, and three dimensions. Attention is focused on its accuracy, stability, and efficiency properties. Recent developments in applying semi-Lagrangian methods to 2D and 3D atmospheric flows in both Cartesian and spherical geometries are then reviewed. Finally, the current status of development is summarized, followed by a short discussion of future perspectives.

Full access
William H. Raymond and Arthur Garder

Abstract

Low- and high-pass traditional recursive and implicit filters are reviewed. Some similarities and differences between these two forms are illustrated. The use of recursive filters in signal processing is contrasted with the needs in meteorology. The standard techniques used in building a recursive filter with specified characteristics are described. The desirability of high-order calculations is demonstrated. Some numerical results are presented to illustrate the differences in filter selectivity in the presence of topography. To make the implicit filters competitive with the traditional recursive formalism, efficient numerical matrix inversion procedures are employed in the application of both limited area and cyclic boundary conditions.

Full access