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  • Author or Editor: Peter Sheridan x
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Peter Sheridan
and
Simon Vosper

Abstract

The downslope windstorm during intensive observation period (IOP) 6 was the most severe that was detected during the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) in Owens Valley in the Sierra Nevada of California. Cross sections of vertical motion in the form of a composite constructed from aircraft data spanning the depth of the troposphere are used to link the winds experienced at the surface to the changing structure of the mountain-wave field aloft. Detailed analysis of other observations allows the role played by a passing occluded front, associated with the rapid intensification (and subsequent cessation) of the windstorm, to be studied. High-resolution, nested modeling using the Met Office Unified Model (MetUM) is used to study qualitative aspects of the flow and the influence of the front, and this modeling suggests that accurate forecasting of the timing and position of both the front and strong mountaintop winds is crucial to capture the wave dynamics and accompanying windstorm. Meanwhile, far ahead of the front, simulated downslope winds are shallow and foehnlike, driven by the thermal contrast between the upstream and valley air mass. The study also highlights the difficulties of capturing the detailed interaction of weather systems with large and complex orography in numerical weather prediction.

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Peter Sheridan
,
Simon Vosper
, and
Samantha Smith

Abstract

Recent improvements to an algorithm to be used operationally for downscaling screen temperatures from numerical weather prediction models are described. Testing against very high resolution dynamically downscaled screen temperatures and intensive field measurements taken during the Cold-Air Pooling Experiment (COLPEX) is performed. The improvements are based on a physical understanding of the processes involved in the formation of cold-air pools (CAPs) that is informed by recent research. The algorithm includes a parameterization of sidewall sheltering effects that lead to lower temperatures in valley-bottom CAPs on clear, calm nights. Advection and adjustment over exposed hilltops results in higher screen temperatures than on flat ground but lower temperatures relative to the free air above the valley at the same elevation, and a treatment of this effect has also been developed. These processes form the major contributions to the often dramatic small-scale variations in temperature in complex terrain in stable boundary layer conditions, even when height variation is fairly shallow. The improvements result in qualitatively better reproduction of subgrid temperature patterns in complex terrain during CAPs. Statistical forecast errors are subsequently improved.

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