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Peter V. Hobbs and John D. Locatelli

Abstract

The mesoscale organization and structure of precipitation in a cyclonic storm have been studied using satellite, radar, airborne and ground measurements. The large mesoscale regions, which were mainly in the form of rainbands, contained within them smaller mesoscale regions (preciptation cores) which were characterized by higher rainfall rates. It is shown that the precipitation cores in warm frontal bands originated in generating cells aloft which provided “seed” ice crystals which grew by collection as they fell through lower cloud layers. The generating cells were probably produced by the lifting of shallow layers of potentially unstable air which were situated above warm fronts. There is also some evidence that the precipitation cores within cold frontal bands originated within layers of potentially unstable air.

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John D. Locatelli and Peter V. Hobbs

Abstract

Mesoscale measurement from radars, aircraft and rawinsondes, and synoptic and satellite data are used to provide a detailed description of a warm front as it approached the Washington Coast. In many respects, the warm front was consistent with the classical model: temperature rises were concentrated within a forward-sloping frontal zone, winds veered with height and lapse rates were more stable within the frontal zone, clouds and precipitation were produced by upglide over the warm-frontal surface and, as the warm front approached, clouds lowered and precipitation generally increased. However, in several important respects the warm front differed from the classical picture. Air flowed through the warm front and the warm-frontal zone. Also, the warm-frontal zone had a “staircase” profile, with some segments nearly horizontal and other segments with steep slopes. Finally, precipitation was by no means uniformly distributed; instead, it occurred in both irregular and banded-shaped mesoscale features.

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Owen Hertzman, Peter V. Hobbs, and John D. Locatelli

Abstract

The three-dimensional structure of a warm front and its precipitation features are caused using due-Doppler radar data and supporting mesoscale measurements. Evidence is presented to support a staircase-like structure of the warm-frontal surface and significant flow of air through front from the warm side.

The cyclonic vertical vorticities within both the principal banded and nonbanded precipitation features were very weak. The primary source of the vertical vorticity appears to have been advected horzontally from behind the frontal zone by a strong low-level inflow. Vortex streteching was generally weak. Tilting terms is in the vorticity budget were primarily sinks.

Kinematic factors that must have played a role in the formation of the banded and irregular precipitation feature associated with this front are discussed and some generalizations are made to other preciptations systems.

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Jonathan E. Martin, John D. Locatelli, and Peter V. Hobbs

Abstract

The origins of a rainband of moderate intensity that occurred over the eastern Carolinas is investigated. It is concluded that the band formed in the updraft portion of a thermodynamically direct vertical circulation about an upper-level frontal zone in a region of conditional symmetrical instability (CSI). The release of CSI is presumed to have been responsible for the dimensions of the band and its orientation relative to the shear vector. An adiabatic mechanism for destabilization of the environment of the upper-level front to CSI was explored but found to be insignificant in this case.

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Mark T. Stoelinga, John D. Locatelli, and Christopher P. Woods

Abstract

Recent studies that have classified ice particles from airborne imaging probe data have concluded that the vast majority of ice particles in stratiform precipitation systems are of an “irregular shape.” This conclusion stands in contrast to the findings from microscope observations of snow particles at the ground during the Improvement of Microphysical Parameterization through Observational Verification Experiment from November to December 2001 in the Oregon Cascade Mountains (IMPROVE-2), which show that most snow crystals (either single crystals or the component crystals of snow aggregates) are readily identified as regular types within established crystal classification systems. This apparent contradiction is rectified by examining the definition of the term irregular as applied to ice particles and by considering limitations of different methods for observing ice particles. It is concluded that the finding of the airborne probe-based studies is a consequence of both limitations of the observing technology and an overly broad definition of irregular shape that is not consistent with the more restrictive definition established in well-known snow crystal classification schemes. When detailed microscope analysis of snow crystals is performed at the ground, and all regular types are included in the classification, the vast majority of snow crystals are of an identifiable regular type, rather than an irregular type.

The classification of the vast majority of particles as irregular implies that there is little hope to describe the important properties of these particles (such as their scattering properties, fall speeds, and temperature and humidity conditions in which they grew), when in fact, many of these particles are of known types with known properties. Instead of using the term irregular, classification studies should use a term that focuses on the limitation of the observation method as being the defining characteristic of the category, such as “unidentified” or “undetermined.”

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Christopher P. Woods, John D. Locatelli, and Mark T. Stoelinga

Abstract

Previous model simulations indicate that in stratiform precipitation, the precipitation rate can increase by 7% in the melting layer through direct condensation onto melting snow and the resultant cooled rain. In the present study, a model simulation of stratiform precipitation in a wide cold frontal rainband indicates that the precipitation rate can also increase by 5% in the melting layer through accretion, by melting snow and rain, of additional cloud water produced by the latent cooling of the ambient air associated with melting snow. The contribution of the combined processes, and therefore the additional precipitation gained through the latent cooling of melting snow within the melting layer, may contribute as much as 10% to the precipitation rate in stratiform precipitation.

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Christopher P. Woods, Mark T. Stoelinga, and John D. Locatelli

Abstract

A mesoscale model simulation of a wide cold-frontal rainband observed in the Pacific Northwest during the Improvement of Microphysical Parameterization through Observational Verification Experiment (IMPROVE-1) field study was used to test the sensitivity of the model-produced precipitation to varied representations of snow particles in a bulk microphysical scheme. Tests of sensitivity to snow habit type, by using empirical relationships for mass and velocity versus diameter, demonstrated the defectiveness of the conventional assumption of snow particles as constant density spheres. More realistic empirical mass–diameter relationships result in increased numbers of particles and shift the snow size distribution toward larger particles, leading to increased depositional growth of snow and decreased cloud water production. Use of realistic empirical mass–diameter relationships generally increased precipitation at the surface as the rainband interacted with the orography, with more limited increases occurring offshore. Changes in both the mass–diameter and velocity–diameter relationships significantly redistributed precipitation either windward or leeward when the rainband interacted with the mountain barrier.

A method of predicting snow particle habit in a bulk microphysical scheme, and using predicted habit to dynamically determine snow properties in the scheme, was developed and tested. The scheme performed well at predicting the habits present (or not present) in aircraft observations of the rainband. Use of the scheme resulted in little change in the precipitation rate at the ground for the rainband offshore, but significantly increased precipitation when the rainband interacted with the windward slope of the Olympic Mountains. The study demonstrates the promise of the habit prediction approach to treating snow in bulk microphysical schemes.

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John D. Locatelli, Joseph M. Sienkiewicz, and Peter V. Hobbs

Abstract

The frontal structure of a cyclone that developed in the lee of the Rocky Mountains and moved eastward across the United States is examined. The evolutions and interactions of three frontal features are traced: the primary cold front, a shallow secondary arctic front, and a leeside trough. The zone of warm advection associated with the lee trough became more concentrated with time, and eventually resembled a warm front. The primary cold front had a tipped-forward structure, with cold advection aloft preceding cold advection at lower levels. This front overran the trough to form on the East Coast a structure that was similar to a warm occlusion or a split cold front. Two rainbands, parallel to and approximately 225 km ahead of the surface front, formed and dissipated within the inner network of the Genesis of Atlantic Lows Experiment. These rainbands developed at the leading edge of cold advection aloft, and they dissipated as they approached a region of strong convection over the Gulf Stream.

This study provides some insights into the role of a lee trough in the development of a warm occlusion or split cold frontlike structure, the formation of squall lines, and the potential for misanalyzing dry cold fronts. It also highlights the need for some clarifications and/or redefinitions of current terminology associated with occlusions.

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Robert A. Houze Jr., John D. Locatelli, and Peter V. Hobbs

Abstract

The dynamics and cloud microphysics of four rainbands in an occluded frontal system were examined. Aircraft, radar, raingage, and serial rawinsonde observations were obtained in addition to standard satellite and synoptic data. Two of the rainbands occurred in the leading portion of the frontal cloud shield and were oriented parallel to the warm front of the system. The other two bands occurred in the trailing portion of the cloud shield and had cold frontal orientations. Mesoscale pressure features were parallel to the rain-bands, except in mountainous areas. Computed air motions showed that the rainhands were supplied with moist air flowing into the rainband region from the south to south-southwest at low levels (below 800 mb). This air was swept abruptly upward in the rainbands just ahead of the cold air mass approaching from the west. Cumulus-scale convection in a layer between 4 and 5 km in clouds associated with these rainbands appeared to enhance the growth the ice particles. However, the ice crystal habits in these regions did not appear to be affected by the presence of the convection. As the ice particles settled below the convective layer, they grew first by vapor deposition and then, just above the melting layer, they began to grow by riming or aggregation. High ice particle concentrations were measured beneath the convective layer. Below the melting layer, very little precipitation growth took place in the rainbands, and in the two warm frontal bands, considerable evaporation of raindrops occurred below the melting layer.

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Christopher P. Woods, Mark T. Stoelinga, and John D. Locatelli

Abstract

Particle size spectra collected by the University of Washington’s Convair-580 research aircraft at a variety of altitudes and temperatures in winter frontal and orographic precipitation systems during the Improvement of Microphysical Parameterization through Observational Verification Experiment (IMPROVE) are analyzed in this study. The particle size spectra generally appeared to conform to an exponential size distribution, with well-correlated linear fits between the log of the number concentration and particle diameter. When the particle size spectra were grouped according to the habit composition as determined from airborne imagery, significantly improved correlations between the size spectrum parameters and temperature were obtained. This result could potentially be exploited for specifying the size distribution in a single-moment bulk microphysical scheme, if particle habit is predicted by the scheme. Analyses of “spectral trajectories” suggest that the rime-splintering process was likely responsible for the presence of needle and column habit types and the positive shift in both N 0s and λs at temperatures warmer than −10°C.

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