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John D. Locatelli, Mark T. Stoelinga, Matthew F. Garvert, and Peter V. Hobbs


Analysis of observations and the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research (PSU–NCAR) Mesoscale Model (MM5) are used to study the development of a forward-tilted cold front off the coast of Washington State. The vertical velocity associated with the cold front produced a wide cold-frontal rainband. In the early stage of development the midtropospheric baroclinic zone (or upper cold front) moved forward with time over the warm sector to produce a structure similar to a split front. The movement of the upper cold front was due to horizontal transport and frontogenetical propagation. The frontogenetical propagation was produced by a combination of tilting and diabatic frontogenesis, which resulted in a negative/positive couplet of frontogenesis straddling the baroclinic zone.

The lower-tropospheric cold front eventually caught up with the warm front to form a classical warm occlusion. In the initial occluding process the converging frontal zones tilted into a warm-type occlusion configuration due to the presence of a background vertical shear of the horizontal wind component perpendicular to the occluded front. Consequently, as the storm moved over the observing network, the occluded front had the structure of a warm occlusion (tilted forward) in the lower levels. Above the occlusion, the cold front was also tilted forward because it retained its split-front-like structure. Thus, the development of the split front and the warm occlusion were separate processes that occurred in sequence.

Although the MM5 captured the basic forward tilt with time of the cold front, some key aspects of the midtropospheric frontal structure were not well simulated. Because diabatic heating was an important contributor to the maintenance and movement of the upper cold front, it is hypothesized that discrepancies in diabatic heating associated with deficiencies in the model’s explicit microphysical scheme may be responsible for deficiencies in reproducing the structure of the upper cold front.

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Stanley F. Rose, Peter V. Hobbs, John D. Locatelli, and Mark T. Stoelinga


Observations and numerical model simulations associate rising motions below the right-entrance and left-exit quadrants of an upper-level straight jet streak with the development of convection and severe weather. The occurrence of tornadoes in relation to the jet quadrants is investigated for the continental United States for the spring months of 1990–99. Tornadoes occurred primarily within the two exit quadrants, with the left-exit quadrant favored over the right-exit quadrant. While fewer tornadoes were located below the two entrance quadrants, the right-entrance quadrant was favored over the left-entrance quadrant. For those days on which many tornadoes occurred (“outbreak” days), a greater percentage of tornadoes occurred below the left-exit and right-entrance quadrants than for those days on which only a few tornadoes were reported. Composite diagrams are presented to clarify the relationship between the quadrants of a jet streak, severe weather, and synoptic features such as low pressure centers and frontal boundaries.

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Mark T. Stoelinga, Peter V. Hobbs, Clifford F. Mass, John D. Locatelli, Brian A. Colle, Robert A. Houze Jr., Arthur L. Rangno, Nicholas A. Bond, Bradley F. Smull, Roy M. Rasmussen, Gregory Thompson, and Bradley R. Colman

Despite continual increases in numerical model resolution and significant improvements in the forecasting of many meteorological parameters, progress in quantitative precipitation forecasting (QPF) has been slow. This is attributable in part to deficiencies in the bulk microphysical parameterization (BMP) schemes used in mesoscale models to simulate cloud and precipitation processes. These deficiencies have become more apparent as model resolution has increased. To address these problems requires comprehensive data that can be used to isolate errors in QPF due to BMP schemes from those due to other sources. These same data can then be used to evaluate and improve the microphysical processes and hydrometeor fields simulated by BMP schemes. In response to the need for such data, a group of researchers is collaborating on a study titled the Improvement of Microphysical Parameterization through Observational Verification Experiment (IMPROVE). IMPROVE has included two field campaigns carried out in the Pacific Northwest: an offshore frontal precipitation study off the Washington coast in January–February 2001, and an orographic precipitation study in the Oregon Cascade Mountains in November–December 2001. Twenty-eight intensive observation periods yielded a uniquely comprehensive dataset that includes in situ airborne observations of cloud and precipitation microphysical parameters; remotely sensed reflectivity, dual-Doppler, and polarimetric quantities; upper-air wind, temperature, and humidity data; and a wide variety of surface-based meteorological, precipitation, and microphysical data. These data are being used to test mesoscale model simulations of the observed storm systems and, in particular, to evaluate and improve the BMP schemes used in such models. These studies should lead to improved QPF in operational forecast models.

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