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Tammy M. Weckwerth, Lindsay J. Bennett, L. Jay Miller, Joël Van Baelen, Paolo Di Girolamo, Alan M. Blyth, and Tracy J. Hertneky

Abstract

A case study of orographic convection initiation (CI) that occurred along the eastern slopes of the Vosges Mountains in France on 6 August 2007 during the Convective and Orographically-Induced Precipitation Study (COPS) is presented. Global positioning system (GPS) receivers and two Doppler on Wheels (DOW) mobile radars sampled the preconvective and storm environments and were respectively used to retrieve three-dimensional tomographic water vapor and wind fields. These retrieved data were supplemented with temperature, moisture, and winds from radiosondes from a site in the eastern Rhine Valley. High-resolution numerical simulations with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model were used to further investigate the physical processes leading to convective precipitation.

This unique, time-varying combination of derived water vapor and winds from observations illustrated an increase in low-level moisture and convergence between upslope easterlies and downslope westerlies along the eastern slope of the Vosges Mountains. Uplift associated with these shallow, colliding boundary layer flows eventually led to the initiation of moist convection. WRF reproduced many features of the observed complicated flow, such as cyclonic (anticyclonic) flow around the southern (northern) end of the Vosges Mountains and the east-side convergent flow below the ridgeline. The WRF simulations also illustrated spatial and temporal variability in buoyancy and the removal of the lids prior to convective development. The timing and location of CI from the WRF simulations was surprisingly close to that observed.

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Belay Demoz, Cyrille Flamant, Tammy Weckwerth, David Whiteman, Keith Evans, Frédéric Fabry, Paolo Di Girolamo, David Miller, Bart Geerts, William Brown, Geary Schwemmer, Bruce Gentry, Wayne Feltz, and Zhien Wang

Abstract

A detailed analysis of the structure of a double dryline observed over the Oklahoma panhandle during the first International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) convective initiation (CI) mission on 22 May 2002 is presented. A unique and unprecedented set of high temporal and spatial resolution measurements of water vapor mixing ratio, wind, and boundary layer structure parameters were acquired using the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scanning Raman lidar (SRL), the Goddard Lidar Observatory for Winds (GLOW), and the Holographic Airborne Rotating Lidar Instrument Experiment (HARLIE), respectively. These measurements are combined with the vertical velocity measurements derived from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Multiple Antenna Profiler Radar (MAPR) and radar structure function from the high-resolution University of Massachusetts frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) radar to reveal the evolution and structure of the late afternoon double-dryline boundary layer. The eastern dryline advanced and then retreated over the Homestead profiling site in the Oklahoma panhandle, providing conditions ripe for a detailed observation of the small-scale variability within the boundary layer and the dryline. In situ aircraft data, dropsonde and radiosonde data, along with NCAR S-band dual-polarization Doppler radar (S-Pol) measurements, are also used to provide the larger-scale picture of the double-dryline environment.

Moisture and temperature jumps of about 3 g kg−1 and 1–2 K, respectively, were observed across the eastern radar fine line (dryline), more than the moisture jumps (1–2 g kg−1) observed across the western radar fine line (secondary dryline). Most updraft plumes observed were located on the moist side of the eastern dryline with vertical velocities exceeding 3 m s−1 and variable horizontal widths of 2–5 km, although some were as wide as 7–8 km. These updrafts were up to 1.5 g kg−1 moister than the surrounding environment.

Although models suggested deep convection over the Oklahoma panhandle and several cloud lines were observed near the dryline, the dryline itself did not initiate any storms over the intensive observation region (IOR). Possible reasons for this lack of convection are discussed. Strong capping inversion and moisture detrainment between the lifting condensation level and the level of free convection related to an overriding drier air, together with the relatively small near-surface moisture values (less than 10 g kg−1), were detrimental to CI in this case.

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