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  • Author or Editor: MICHAEL L. KAPLAN x
  • Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology x
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Michael L. Kaplan
and
Douglas A. Paine

Abstract

A numerical model has been designed to link quasi-geostrophic and mesoscale forcing. Initializations performed at 127 km with either a barotropic forecast or a diagnostic omega equation are followed by a prediction with a moist nine-level primitive equation model operating on a 32-km grid mesh. The results of two short-period integrations indicate good correspondence between forecast omega fields and radar observations, observed snowfall, and diagnostic integrations. Vertical motions reach maxima of 25 and 50 cm sec−1, while the forecast dependent variables indicate an integral role played by long gravity waves in organizing mesoscale development.

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S. M. Shajedul Karim
,
Yuh-Lang Lin
, and
Michael L. Kaplan

Abstract

Numerical simulations were conducted to investigate the upstream environment’s impacts on the airflow over the lee slope of the Cuyamaca Mountains (CM) near San Diego, California, during the Cedar Fire that occurred from 25 to 29 October 2003. The upstream environment was largely controlled by a southwest–northeast-oriented upper-tropospheric jet streak that rotated around a positively tilted ridge within the polar jet stream. Three sequential dynamical processes were found to be responsible for modifying the mesoscale environment conducive to low-level momentum and dry air that sustained the Cedar Fire. First, the sinking motion associated with the indirect circulation of the jet streak’s exit region strengthened the midtropospheric flow over the southern Rockies and the lee slope of the Sawatch and San Juan Ranges, thus modestly affecting the airflow by enhancing the downslope wind over the CM. Second, consistent with the coupling process between the upper-level sinking motion, downward momentum transfer, and developing lower-layer mountain waves, a wave-induced critical level over the mountain produced wave breaking, which was characterized by a strong turbulent mixed region with a wind reversal on top of it. This critical level helped to produce severe downslope winds leading to the third stage: a hydraulic jump that subsequently enhanced the downstream extent of the strong winds conducive to the favorable lower-tropospheric environment for rapid fire spread. Consistent with these findings was the deep-layer resonance between the mountain surface and tropopause, which had a strong impact on strengthening the severe downslope winds over the lee slope of the CM accompanying the elevated strong easterly jet at low levels.

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Craig M. Smith
,
Benjamin J. Hatchett
, and
Michael L. Kaplan

Abstract

Sundowners are downslope windstorms that occur over the southern slopes of the east–west-trending Santa Ynez range in Santa Barbara County, California. In the past, many extreme fires in the area, including the Painted Cave, Montecito Tea, Jesusita, and Sherpa fires, have occurred during sundowner events. A high-resolution 11-yr dynamically downscaled climatology was produced using a numerical weather prediction model in order to elucidate the general dynamical characteristics of sundowners. The downscaled climatology is validated with observations during the 2016 Sherpa fire. A sundowner index (SI) is computed from the climatology that quantifies the magnitude of adiabatic warming and northerly (downslope) wind component during sundowner events. The SI allows for the classification of historical events into categories of various strengths. The primary characteristics of strong sundowners from this classification include 1) internal gravity wave breaking over the Santa Ynez range, 2) initiation in the western Santa Ynez range with eastward progression over the course of a day, 3) a maximum likelihood of occurrence in April and May near 2000 Pacific standard time, and 4) a limited downstream extent for most events, such that the long-term historical weather station, Santa Barbara airport, often does not experience moderate events. Analysis of an operational forecast rubric composed of the surface pressure difference from Bakersfield to Santa Barbara indicates that this rubric is not skillful. However, offshore pressure gradients are skillful and are related to the strong northwesterly alongshore jet. The findings presented herein can be used to provide guidance for fire weather forecasts and support resource allocation during fire suppression efforts.

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