Abstract

The nature of the different types of surface boundaries that appear in the southern plains of the United States during the convectively active season is reviewed. The following boundaries are discussed: fronts, the dryline, troughs, and outflow boundaries, The boundaries are related to their environment and to local topography. The role these boundaries might play in the initiation of convective storms is emphasized. The various types of boundary-related vertical circulations and their dynamics are discussed. In particular, quasigeostrophic and semigeostrophic dynamics, and the dynamics of solenoidal circulations, density currents, boundary layers, and gravity waves are considered.

Miscellaneous topics pertinent to convective storms and their relationship to surface boundaries such as along-the-boundary variability, boundary collisions, and the role of vertical shear are also discussed. Although some cases of storm initiation along surface boundaries have been well documented using research datasets collected during comprehensive field experiments, much of what we know is based only on empirical forecasting and nowcasting experience. It is suggested that many problems relating to convective-storm formation need to be explored in detail using real datasets with new observing systems and techniques, in conjunction with numerical simulation studies, and through climatological studies.