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John T. Allen, Edwina R. Allen, Harald Richter, and Chiara Lepore

Abstract

During 2013, multiple tornadoes occurred across Australia, leading to 147 injuries and considerable damage. This prompted speculation as to the frequency of these events in Australia, and whether 2013 constituted a record year. Leveraging media reports, public accounts, and the Bureau of Meteorology observational record, 69 tornadoes were identified for the year in comparison to the official count of 37 events. This identified set and the existing historical record were used to establish that, in terms of spatial distribution, 2013 was not abnormal relative to the existing climatology, but numerically exceeded any year in the bureau’s record. Evaluation of the environments in which these tornadoes formed illustrated that these conditions included tornado environments found elsewhere globally, but generally had a stronger dependence on shear magnitude than direction, and lower lifting condensation levels. Relative to local environment climatology, 2013 was also not anomalous. These results illustrate a range of tornadoes associated with cool season, tropical cyclone, east coast low, supercell tornado, and low shear/storm merger environments. Using this baseline, the spatial climatology from 1980 to 2019 as derived from the nonconditional frequency of favorable significant tornado parameter environments for the year is used to highlight that observations are likely an underestimation. Applying the results, discussion is made of the need to expand observing practices, climatology, forecasting guidelines for operational prediction, and improve the warning system. This highlights a need to ensure that the general public is appropriately informed of the tornado hazard in Australia, and provide them with the understanding to respond accordingly.

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Marvin A. Geller, Peter T. Love, and Ling Wang

Abstract

The 1-s-resolution U.S. radiosonde data are analyzed for unstable layers, where the potential temperature decreases with increasing altitude, in the troposphere and lower stratosphere (LS). Care is taken to exclude spurious unstable layers arising from noise in the soundings and also to allow for the destabilizing influence of water vapor in saturated layers. Riverton, Wyoming, and Greensboro, North Carolina, in the extratropics, are analyzed in detail, where it is found that the annual and diurnal variations are largest, and the interannual variations are smallest in the LS. More unstable layer occurrences in the LS at Riverton are found at 0000 UTC, while at Greensboro, more unstable layer occurrences in the LS are at 1200 UTC, consistent with a geographical pattern where greater unstable layer occurrences in the LS are at 0000 UTC in the western United States, while greater unstable layer occurrences are at 1200 UTC in the eastern United States. The picture at Koror, Palau, in the tropics is different in that the diurnal and interannual variations in unstable layer occurrences in the LS are largest, with much smaller annual variations. At Koror, more frequent unstable layer occurrences in the LS occur at 0000 UTC. Also, a “notch” in the frequencies of occurrence of thin unstable layers at about 12 km is observed at Koror, with large frequencies of occurrence of thick layers at that altitude. Histograms are produced for the two midlatitude stations and one tropical station analyzed. The log–log slopes for troposphere histograms are in reasonable agreement with earlier results, but the LS histograms show a steeper log–log slope, consistent with more thin unstable layers and fewer thick unstable layers there. Some radiosonde stations are excluded from this analysis since a marked change in unstable layer occurrences was identified when a change in radiosonde instrumentation occurred.

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Sergey Frolov, Carolyn A. Reynolds, Michael Alexander, Maria Flatau, Neil P. Barton, Patrick Hogan, and Clark Rowley

Abstract

Patterns of correlations between the ocean and the atmosphere are examined using a high-resolution (1/12° ocean and ice, 1/3° atmosphere) ensemble of data assimilative, coupled, global, ocean–atmosphere forecasts. This provides a unique perspective into atmosphere–ocean interactions constrained by assimilated observations, allowing for the contrast of patterns of coupled processes across regions and the examination of processes affected by ocean mesoscale eddies. Correlations during the first 24 h of the coupled forecast between the ocean surface temperature and atmospheric variables, and between the ocean mixed layer depth and surface winds are examined as a function of region and season. Three distinct coupling regimes emerge: 1) regions characterized by strong sea surface temperature fronts, where uncertainty in the ocean mesoscale influences ocean–atmosphere exchanges; 2) regions with intense atmospheric convection over the tropical oceans, where uncertainty in the modeled atmospheric convection impacts the upper ocean; and 3) regions where the depth of the seasonal mixed layer (MLD) determines the magnitude of the coupling, which is stronger when the MLD is shallow and weaker when the MLD is deep. A comparison with models at lower horizontal (1/12° vs 1° and 1/4°) and vertical (1- vs 10-m depth of the first layer) ocean resolution reveals that coupling in the boundary currents, the tropical Indian Ocean, and the warm pool regions requires high levels of horizontal and vertical resolution. Implications for coupled data assimilation and short-term forecasting are discussed.

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Sean R. Santellanes, George S. Young, David J. Stensrud, Matthew R. Kumjian, and Ying Pan

Abstract

Typical environmental conditions associated with horizontal convective rolls (HCRs) and cellular convection have been known for over 50 years. Yet our ability to predict whether HCRs, cellular convection, or no discernable organized (null) circulation will occur within a well-mixed convective boundary layer based upon easily observed environmental variables has been limited. Herein, a large database of 50 cases each of HCR, cellular convection, and null events is created that includes observations of mean boundary layer wind and wind shear, boundary layer depth; surface observations of wind, temperature, and relative humidity; and estimates of surface sensible heat flux. Results from a multiclass linear discriminant analysis applied to these data indicate that environmental conditions can be useful in predicting whether HCRs, cellular convection, or no circulation occurs, with the analysis identifying the correct circulation type on 72% of the case days. This result is slightly better than using a mean convective boundary layer (CBL) wind speed of 6 m s−1 to discriminate between HCRs and cells. However, the mean CBL wind speed has no ability to further separate out cases with no CBL circulation. The key environmental variables suggested by the discriminant analysis are mean sensible heat flux, friction velocity, and the Obukhov length.

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Taylor B. Aydell and Craig B. Clements

ABSTRACT

Remote sensing techniques have been used to study and track wildfire smoke plume structure and evolution; however, knowledge gaps remain because of the limited availability of observational datasets aimed at understanding fine-scale fire–atmosphere interactions and plume microphysics. Meteorological radars have been used to investigate the evolution of plume rise in time and space, but highly resolved plume observations are limited. In this study, we present a new mobile millimeter-wave (Ka band) Doppler radar system acquired to sample the fine-scale kinematics and microphysical properties of active wildfire smoke plumes from both wildfires and large prescribed fires. Four field deployments were conducted in autumn of 2019 during two wildfires in California and one prescribed burn in Utah. Radar parameters investigated in this study include reflectivity, radial velocity, Doppler spectrum width, differential reflectivity Z DR, and copolarized correlation coefficient ρ HV. Observed radar reflectivity ranged between −15 and 20 dBZ in plume, and radial velocity ranged from 0 to 16 m s−1. Dual-polarimetric observations revealed that scattering sources within wildfire plumes are primarily nonspherical and oblate-shaped targets as indicated by Z DR values measuring above 0 and ρ HV values below 0.8 within the plume. Doppler spectrum width maxima were located near the updraft core region and were associated with radar reflectivity maxima.

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Ricardo Domingues, Matthieu Le Hénaff, George Halliwell, Jun A. Zhang, Francis Bringas, Patricia Chardon, Hyun-Sook Kim, Julio Morell, and Gustavo Goni

Abstract

Major Atlantic hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria of 2017 reached their peak intensity in September while traveling over the tropical North Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, where both atmospheric and ocean conditions were favorable for intensification. In situ and satellite ocean observations revealed that conditions in these areas exhibited (i) sea surface temperatures above 28°C, (ii) upper-ocean heat content above 60 kJ cm−2, and (iii) the presence of low-salinity barrier layers associated with a larger-than-usual extension of the Amazon and Orinoco riverine plumes. Proof-of-concept coupled ocean–hurricane numerical model experiments demonstrated that the accurate representation of such ocean conditions led to an improvement in the simulated intensity of Hurricane Maria for the 3 days preceding landfall in Puerto Rico, when compared to an experiment without the assimilation of ocean observations. Without the assimilation of ocean observations, upper-ocean thermal conditions were generally colder than observations, resulting in reduced air–sea enthalpy fluxes—enthalpy fluxes are more realistically simulated when the upper-ocean temperature and salinity structure is better represented in the model. Our results further showed that different components of the ocean observing system provide valuable information in support of improved TC simulations, and that assimilation of underwater glider observations alone enabled the largest improvement over the 24 h time frame before landfall. Our results, therefore, indicated that ocean conditions were relevant for more realistically simulating Hurricane Maria’s intensity. However, further research based on a comprehensive set of hurricane cases is required to confirm robust improvements to forecast systems.

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Christopher D. McCray, John R. Gyakum, and Eyad H. Atallah

Abstract

Though prolonged freezing rain events are rare, they can result in substantial damage when they occur. While freezing rain occurs less frequently in the south-central United States than in some regions of North America, a large number of extremely long-duration events lasting at least 18 h have been observed there. We explore the key synoptic–dynamic conditions that lead to these extreme events through a comparison with less severe short-duration events. We produce synoptic–dynamic composites and 7-day backward trajectories for parcels ending in the warm and cold layers for each event category. The extremely long-duration events are preferentially associated with a deeper and more stationary 500-hPa longwave trough centered over the southwestern United States at event onset. This trough supports sustained flow of warm, moist air from within the planetary boundary layer over the Gulf of Mexico northward into the warm layer. The short-duration cases are instead characterized by a more transient upper-level trough axis centered over the south-central U.S. region at onset. Following event onset, rapid passage of the trough leads to quasigeostrophic forcing for descent and the advection of cold, dry air that erodes the warm layer and ends precipitation. While trajectories ending in the cold layer are very similar between the two categories, those ending in the warm layer have a longer history over the Gulf of Mexico in the extreme cases compared with the short-duration ones, resulting in warmer and moister onset warm layers.

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James S. Risbey, Didier P. Monselesan, Amanda S. Black, Thomas S. Moore, Doug Richardson, Dougal T. Squire, and Carly R. Tozer

Abstract

From time to time atmospheric flows become organized and form coherent long-lived structures. Such structures could be propagating, quasi-stationary, or recur in place. We investigate the ability of Principal Components Analysis (PCA) and Archetypal Analysis (AA) to identify long-lived events, excluding propagating forms. Our analysis is carried out on the Southern Hemisphere mid-tropospheric flow represented by geopotential height at 500hPa (Z 500). The leading basis patterns of Z 500 for PCA and AA are similar and describe structures representing (or similar to) the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) and Pacific South American (PSA) pattern. Long-lived events are identified here from sequences of 8 days or longer where the same basis pattern dominates for PCA or AA. AA identifies more long-lived events than PCA using this approach. The most commonly occurring long-lived event for both AA and PCA is the annular SAM-like pattern. The second most commonly occurring event is the PSA-like Pacific wavetrain for both AA and PCA. For AA the flow at any given time is approximated as weighted contributions from each basis pattern, which lends itself to metrics for discriminating among basis patterns. These show that the longest long-lived events are in general better expressed than shorter events. Case studies of long-lived events featuring a blocking structure and an annular structure show that both PCA and AA can identify and discriminate the dominant basis pattern that most closely resembles the flow event.

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Muhammad Naufal Razin and Michael M. Bell

Abstract

Hurricane Ophelia (2005) underwent an unconventional eyewall replacement cycle (ERC) as it was a Category 1 storm located over cold sea surface temperatures near 23°C. The ERC was analyzed using airborne radar, flight-level, and dropsonde data collected during the Hurricane Rainband and Intensity Change Experiment (RAINEX) intensive observation period on 11 September 2005. Results showed that the spin-up of the secondary tangential wind maximum during the ERC can be attributed to the efficient convergence of absolute angular momentum by the mid-level inflow of Ophelia’s dominantly stratiform rainbands. This secondary tangential wind maximum strongly contributed to the azimuthal mean tangential wind field, which is conducive for increased low-level supergradient winds and corresponding outflow. The low-level supergradient forcing enhanced convergence to form a secondary eyewall. Ophelia provides a unique example of an ERC occurring in a weaker storm with predominantly stratiform rainbands, suggesting an important role of stratiform precipitation processes in the development of secondary eyewalls.

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Xin Li, Xiaolei Zou, Mingjian Zeng, Ning Wang, and Fei Tang

Abstract

Aimed at improving all-sky Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) radiance assimilation, this study explores the benefits for CrIS all-sky radiance simulations, focusing on the accuracy of background cloud information, through assimilating cloud liquid water path (LWP), ice water path (IWP), and rain water path (RWP) data retrieved from the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS). The Community Radiative Transfer Model (CRTM), which considers cloud scattering and absorption processes, is applied to simulate CrIS radiances. The Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation ensemble-variational data assimilation (DA) is updated by incorporating ensemble covariances of hydrometeor variables and observation operators of LWP, IWP, and RWP. First, two DA experiments named DActrl and DAcwp are conducted with (DAcwp) and without (DActrl) assimilating ATMS LWP, IWP, and RWP data. Assimilating ATMS cloud retrieval data results in better spatial distributions of hydrometers for both a Meiyu rainfall case and a typhoon case. Analyses of DActrl and DAcwp are then used as input to the CRTM to generate CrIS all-sky radiance simulations SMallsky_DActrl and SMallsky_DAcwp, respectively. Improvements in the DAcwp analyses of hydrometeor variables are found to benefit CrIS radiance simulations, especially in cloudy regions. A long period of statistics reveals that the biases and standard deviations of all-sky observations minus simulations from SMallsky_DAcwp are notably smaller than those from SMallsky_DActrl. This pilot study suggests the potential benefit of combining the use of microwave cloud retrieval products for all-sky infrared DA.

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