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Calvin M. Elkins
and
Deanna A. Hence

Abstract

Frequent deep convective thunderstorms and mesoscale convective systems make the Córdoba region, near the Sierras de Córdoba mountain range, one of the most active areas on Earth for hail activity. Analysis of hail observations from trained observers and social media reports cross-referenced with operational radar observations identified the convective characteristics of hail-producing convective systems in central Argentina over a 6-month period divided into early (October–December 2018) and late seasons (January–March 2019). Reflectivity and dual-polarization characteristics from the Córdoba operational radar [Radar Meteorológico Argentina (RMA1)] were used to identify the convective modes of convective cells at time of positive hail indicators. Analysis of ERA5 upper-air and surface data examined convective environments of hail events and identified representative dynamic and thermodynamic environments. A majority of early season hail-producing cells were classified as discrete convection, while discrete and multicell occurrence evened out in the late season. Most hail-producing cells initiated directly adjacent to the Sierras in the late season, while cell initiation and hail production is further spread out in the early season. Dividing convective events into dynamic/thermodynamic regimes based on values of 1000 J kg−1 of CAPE and vertical wind shear of 20 m s−1 results in most early season events reflecting shear-dominant characteristics (low CAPE, high shear) and most late-season events exhibiting CAPE-dominant characteristics (high CAPE, low shear). Strength and placement of low-level temperature and moisture anomalies/advection and upper-level jets largely defined the differences in the dominant regimes.

Significance Statement

This study used regional radar data alongside hail reports from trained observers and social media to better understand the types and timing of storms identified as producing hail, given the lower resolution of satellite studies. Dividing the hail season (October–December; January–March) showed that within hail season, early season storms tended to be singular storms that formed across the region in environments with strong vertical winds and weak instability. Late-season storms were a mix of singular storms and multicellular storm systems focused on the mountains in weak vertical winds and strong instability. These results show differences from satellite studies and identify key representative hail-producing radar features and environmental regimes for this region, which could guide hail risk analysis within the severe-weather season.

Open access
Shoobhangi Tyagi
,
Sandeep Sahany
,
Dharmendra Saraswat
,
Saroj Kanta Mishra
,
Amlendu Dubey
, and
Dev Niyogi

Abstract

The 2015 Paris Agreement outlined limiting global warming to 1.5°C relative to the preindustrial levels, necessitating the development of regional climate adaptation strategies. This requires a comprehensive understanding of how the 1.5°C rise in global temperature would translate across different regions. However, its implications on critical agricultural components, particularly blue and green water, remains understudied. This study investigates these changes using a rice-growing semiarid region in central India. The aim of this study is to initiate a discussion on the regional response of blue–green water at specific warming levels. Using different global climate models (GCMs) and shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs), the study estimated the time frame for reaching the 1.5°C warming level and subsequently investigated changes in regional precipitation, temperature, surface runoff, and blue–green water. The results reveal projected reductions in precipitation and surface runoff by approximately 5%–15% and 10%–35%, respectively, along with decrease in green and blue water by approximately 12%–1% and 40%–10%, respectively, across different GCMs and SSPs. These findings highlight 1) the susceptibility of blue–green water to the 1.5°C global warming level, 2) the narrow time frame available for the region to develop the adaptive strategies, 3) the influence of warm semiarid climate on the blue–green water dynamics, and 4) the uncertainty associated with regional assessment of a specific warming level. This study provides new insights for shaping food security strategies over highly vulnerable semiarid regions and is expected to serve as a reference for other regional blue/green water assessment studies.

Significance Statement

This study helps to drive home the message that a global agreement to limit the warming level to 1.5°C does not mean local-scale temperature (and associated hydrological) impacts would be limited to those levels. The regional changes can be more exaggerated and uncertain, and they also depend on the choice of the climate model and region. Therefore, local-scale vulnerability assessments must focus on the multidimensional assessment of a 1.5°C warmer world involving different climate models, climate-sensitive components, and regions. This information is relevant for managing vulnerable agricultural systems. This study is among the first to investigate the critical agricultural components such as the blue–green water over a semiarid Indian region, and the findings and methodology are expected to be transferable for performing regional-scale assessments elsewhere.

Restricted access
Christopher J. Schultz
,
Phillip M. Bitzer
,
Michael Antia
,
Jonathan L. Case
, and
Christopher R. Hain

Abstract

Twenty-six years of lightning data were paired with over 68 000 lightning-initiated wildfire (LIW) reports to understand lightning flash characteristics responsible for ignition in between 1995 and 2020. Results indicate that 92% of LIW were started by negative cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning flashes and 57% were single stroke flashes. Moreover, 62% of LIW reports did not have a positive CG within 10 km of the start location, contrary to the science literature’s suggestion that positive CG flashes are a dominant fire-starting mechanism. Nearly ⅓ of wildfire events were holdovers, meaning 1 or more days elapsed between lightning occurrence and fire report. However, fires that were reported less than a day after lightning occurrence statistically burned more acreage. Peak current was not found to be a statistically significant delineator between fire starters and non–fire starters for negative CGs but was for positive CGs. Results highlighted the need for reassessing the role of positive CG lightning and subsequently long-continuing current in wildfire ignition started by lightning. One potential outcome of this study’s results is the development of real-time tools to identify ignition potential during lightning events to aid in fire mitigation efforts.

Restricted access
Lu Yang
,
Linye Song
,
Mingxuan Chen
, and
Conglan Cheng

Abstract

While previous work on the climatology of Northern China has focused on mean wind speed, wind gusts have received comparatively less attention but are equally important to various users. In this paper, an observed hourly maximum gust wind speeds (HMGS) dataset across North China has been created by using time series from 174 meteorological stations. The dataset offers superior quality, high spatiotemporal near-surface HMGS series for North China spanning from 2015 to 2022. The objective of this study is first to improve our understanding of the spatiotemporal gusts climatology in North China by analyzing the observed gust data. Second, we aim to supplement the observational data by using gust analysis and forecast data with a high spatial–temporal resolution from model simulations. The spatial characteristics of the seasonal cycle of the simulated analysis of mean HMGS and the performance in predicting gusts based on the geographical locations and elevations of the validation stations were investigated by comparing it with the observations. Results indicate the following: 1) Wind direction and intensity are affected by the terrain and climate conditions of different weather stations. Stations situated along the Bohai Bay coastal region and at higher-elevation areas of North China exhibit a higher mean HMGS than those located in the coastal and inland plains. 2) The probability density function curves for wind speed and wind direction exhibit notable variations across different elevation intervals. The contribution of moderate and strong gust wind speeds increases gradually with increasing altitude, while the gust directions in mountainous areas exhibit relatively consistent patterns due to the increased exposure to synoptic-scale forcing at higher elevations. 3) The nowcasting prediction system analysis of mean HMGS provides a higher horizontal resolution that is capable of capturing the contrasts between land and sea, as well as the influence of high HMGS associated with large-scale circulations in high-elevation regions.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to better understand the spatiotemporal gust climatology in North China and the performance of the model-simulated gust analysis and forecast data. This is important because gusts conditions differ due to varying topographic and climatic conditions of different weather stations. Our results provide a valuable insight into the climatological variations of HMGS, their drivers, and identify the deficiencies in the model-simulation gusts.

Restricted access
Ricardo C. Muñoz
and
Laurence Armi

Abstract

Raco is a local wind occurring in central Chile where the Maipo River Canyon exits into the Santiago valley. The intensification of the easterly down-canyon flow starts at any time during some cold season nights, accompanied by increases in temperature and drops in humidity. The hypothesis of the raco being a gap wind controlled by the narrowest section in the 12-km canyon exit corridor is tested with data from two events in July 2018 and July 2019. The data are analyzed in the framework of hydraulic theory, and a subcritical-to-supercritical transition is documented to occur at the narrows of the gap where the Froude number is close to unity, confirmed by radiosondes launched in the narrows in 2019. For the raco flow, the sum of potential and kinetic energy is conserved upstream of the narrows, while the acceleration occurring farther downstream loses a large fraction of energy to frictional dissipation. The raco events occur under the influence of regional subsidence, but a differential nocturnal warming of the in-canyon air mass is responsible for a pressure gradient driving the raco. In the 2019 case, a ceilometer mounted on an instrumented pickup truck documented the structure and movement of the interface between the raco air and the cold-air pool (CAP) existing over the valley to the west. Together with a radiosonde launched near the CAP–raco surface front, the observations reveal the intense shear-driven mixing taking place at the interface and the factors supporting the establishment of a stationary front.

Open access
Nicholas S. Grondin
and
Kelsey N. Ellis

Abstract

In this study, we investigated the translation speed and intensity change characteristics for landfalling North American tropical cyclones (TCs) from 1971 to 2020. We calculated three variables—intensity change, mean translation speed, and translation speed change—prior to each TC landfall and investigated the climatology of these variables for seven coastal segments. We found that lower-latitude segments generally had greater positive intensity changes prior to landfall, and higher-latitude segments had greater translation speeds. Longitude primarily influenced translation speed changes, with landfalling TCs along the Atlantic coast of the United States notably accelerating prior to landfall. Temporal trends in each of these variables were inconsistent geographically, but most segments showed an increase in positive intensity changes over time, demonstrating the increasing likelihood of intensifying TCs before landfall in recent years. We defined extreme intensification and extreme weakening as the 90th and 10th percentile of all landfalling TC intensity changes, respectively. We found that extreme intensification and weakening have been increasing and decreasing in frequency, respectively. Results from this study can be used in a variety of future applications, including in operational forecasting and model production, and provide a baseline for climate attribution studies investigating extreme intensity change events.

Significance Statement

Landfalling tropical cyclones pose significant hazards to life and property in coastal regions across North America. This study develops a comprehensive climatology of intensity change and translation speed of tropical cyclones during the final 36 h prior to landfall. We found that incidences of extreme intensification and weakening of landfalling North American tropical cyclones have increased and decreased, respectively, since 1971. We also identify lower-latitude coastal segments tend to average faster translation speeds that higher-latitude segments, while segments on the east coast of the United States tended to average a greater acceleration. These results show the importance of looking at tropical cyclone characteristics regionally and provide a useful baseline to assess how tropical cyclone risk is changing in a warming climate.

Restricted access
Mark Weber
,
Dusan Zrnic
,
Pengfei Zhang
, and
Edward Mansell

Abstract

This article describes a concept whereby future operational polarimetric phased array radars (PPAR) routinely monitor ice crystal alignment regions caused by thundercloud electric fields with volume scan updates (∼12 min−1) sufficient to resolve the temporal variation due to lightning and subsequent rapid electric field regeneration in nonsevere thunderstorms. Routine observations of crystal alignment regions may enhance thunderstorm nowcasting through comparison of their temporal and spatial structure with other polarimetric signatures, integration with lightning detection data, and assimilation into convection resolving numerical weather prediction models. If crystal alignment observations indicate strong electrification well in advance of the first lightning strike and likewise reliably indicate the decay of strong electric fields at the end of a storm, this capability may improve warning for lightning-sensitive activities such as airport ramp operations and space launch. Experimental observations of crystal alignment volumes in central Oklahoma severe storms and their relation to those storms’ structures are presented and used to motivate discussion of possible PPAR architectures. In one case—a tornadic supercell—these observations illustrate an important limitation. Even the hypothesized 12 min−1 volume scan update rate would not resolve the temporal variation of the crystal alignment regions in such storms, suggesting that special, adaptive scanning methods may be appropriate for such storms. We describe how future operational phased array radars could support a crystal alignment measurement mode via parallel, time-multiplexed processing and discuss potential impacts on the radar’s primary weather observation mission. We conclude by discussing research needed to better understand technical challenges and operational benefits.

Restricted access
Yoonjin Lee
and
Kyle Hilburn

Abstract

Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) Radar Estimation via Machine Learning to Inform NWP (GREMLIN) is a machine learning model that outputs composite reflectivity using GOES-R Series Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) and Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) input data. GREMLIN is useful for observing severe weather and initializing convection for short-term forecasts, especially over regions without ground-based radars. This study expands the evaluation of GREMLIN’s accuracy against the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) System to the entire contiguous United States (CONUS) for the entire annual cycle. Regional and temporal variation of validation metrics are examined over CONUS by season, day of year, and time of day. Since GREMLIN was trained with data in spring and summer, root-mean-square difference (RMSD) and bias are lowest in the order of summer, spring, fall, and winter. In summer, diurnal patterns of RMSD follow those of precipitation occurrence. Winter has the highest RMSD because of cold surfaces mistaken as precipitating clouds, but some of these errors can be removed by applying the ABI clear-sky mask product and correcting biases using a lookup table. In GREMLIN, strong echoes are closely related to the existence of lightning and corresponding low brightness temperatures, which result in different error distributions over different regions of CONUS. This leads to negative biases in cold seasons over Washington State, lower 30-dBZ critical success index caused by high misses over the Northeast, and higher false alarms over Florida that are due to higher frequency of lightning.

Open access
Haoyu (Richard) Zhuang
,
Flavio Lehner
, and
Arthur T. DeGaetano

Abstract

Existing precipitation-type algorithms have difficulty discerning the occurrence of freezing rain and ice pellets. These inherent biases are not only problematic in operational forecasting but also complicate the development of model-based precipitation-type climatologies. To address these issues, this paper introduces a novel light gradient-boosting machine (LightGBM)-based machine learning precipitation-type algorithm that utilizes reanalysis and surface observations. By comparing it with the Bourgouin precipitation-type algorithm as a baseline, we demonstrate that our algorithm improves the critical success index (CSI) for all examined precipitation types. Moreover, when compared with the precipitation-type diagnosis in reanalysis, our algorithm exhibits increased F1 scores for snow, freezing rain, and ice pellets. Subsequently, we utilize the algorithm to compute a freezing-rain climatology over the eastern United States. The resulting climatology pattern aligns well with observations; however, a significant mean bias is observed. We interpret this bias to be influenced by both the algorithm itself and assumptions regarding precipitation processes, which include biases associated with freezing drizzle, precipitation occurrence, and regional synoptic weather patterns. To mitigate the overall bias, we propose increasing the precipitation cutoff from 0.04 to 0.25 mm h−1, as it better reflects the precision of precipitation observations. This adjustment yields a substantial reduction in the overall bias. Finally, given the strong performance of LightGBM in predicting mixed precipitation episodes, we anticipate that the algorithm can be effectively utilized in operational settings and for diagnosing precipitation types in climate model outputs.

Significance Statement

Freezing rain can have significant impacts on transportation and infrastructure, making accurate prediction of precipitation types crucial. In this study, we use a machine learning method known as LightGBM to predict precipitation types. We show that the new algorithm performs better than the existing methods for all precipitation types examined. Additionally, we compute a freezing-rain climatology over the eastern United States. Although the resulting climatology pattern corresponds well to observations, the algorithm overpredicts freezing-rain occurrence. We argue that this bias can be substantially reduced by increasing the precipitation cutoff from 0.04 to 0.25 mm h−1. Overall, this work highlights the potential of the LightGBM algorithm for both weather forecasting and diagnosing precipitation types in climate models.

Restricted access
Sudheer R. Bhimireddy
and
David A. R. Kristovich

Abstract

This study evaluates the methods of identifying the height zi of the top of the convective boundary layer (CBL) during winter (December and January) over the Great Lakes and nearby land areas using observations taken by the University of Wyoming King Air research aircraft during the Lake-Induced Convection Experiment (1997/98) and Ontario Winter Lake-effect Systems (2013/14) field campaigns. Since CBLs facilitate vertical mixing near the surface, the most direct measurement of zi is that above which the vertical velocity turbulent fluctuations are weak or absent. Thus, we use zi from the turbulence method as the “reference value” to which zi from other methods, based on bulk Richardson number (Ri b ), liquid water content, and vertical gradients of potential temperature, relative humidity, and water vapor mixing ratio, are compared. The potential temperature gradient method using a threshold value of 0.015 K m−1 for soundings over land and 0.011 K m−1 for soundings over lake provided the estimates of zi that are most consistent with the turbulence method. The Ri b threshold-based method, commonly used in numerical simulation studies, underestimated zi . Analyzing the methods’ performance on the averaging window z avg we recommend using z avg = 20 or 50 m for zi estimations for lake-effect boundary layers. The present dataset consists of both cloudy and cloud-free boundary layers, some having decoupled boundary layers above the inversion top. Because cases of decoupled boundary layers appear to be formed by nearby synoptic storms, we recommend use of the more general term, elevated mixed layers.

Significance Statement

The depth zi of the convective atmospheric boundary layer (CBL) strongly influences precipitation rates during lake-effect snowstorms (LES). However, various zi approximation methods produce significantly different results. This study utilizes extensive concurrently collected observations by project aircraft during two LES field studies [Lake-Induced Convection Experiment (Lake-ICE) and OWLeS] to assess how zi from common estimation methods compare with “reference” zi derived from turbulent fluctuations, a direct measure of CBL mixing. For soundings taken both over land and lake; with cloudy or cloud-free conditions, potential temperature gradient (PTG) methods provided the best agreement with the reference zi . A method commonly employed in numerical simulations performed relatively poorly. Interestingly, the PTG method worked equally well for “coupled” and elevated decoupled CBLs, commonly associated with nearby cyclones.

Open access