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  • Author or Editor: Zachary J. Lebo x
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Matthew R. Kumjian
,
Zachary J. Lebo
, and
Aaron M. Ward

Abstract

Hail-bearing storms produce substantial socioeconomic impacts each year, yet challenges remain in forecasting the type of hail threat supported by a given environment and in using radar to estimate hail sizes more accurately. One class of hail threat is storms producing large accumulations of small hail (SPLASH). This paper presents an analysis of the environments and polarimetric radar characteristics of such storms. Thirteen SPLASH events were selected to encompass a broad range of geographic regions and times of year. Rapid Refresh model output was used to characterize the mesoscale environments associated with each case. This analysis reveals that a range of environments can support SPLASH cases; however, some commonalities included large precipitable water (exceeding that day’s climatological 90th-percentile values), CAPE < 2500 J kg−1, weak storm-relative wind speeds (<10 m s−1) in the lowest few kilometers of the troposphere, and a weak component of the storm-relative flow orthogonal to the 0–6-km shear vector. Most of the storms were weak supercells that featured distinctive S-band radar signatures, including compact (<200 km2) regions of reflectivity factor > 60 dBZ, significant differential attenuation evident as negative differential reflectivity extending downrange of the hail core, and anomalously large specific differential phase K DP. The K DP values often approached or exceeded the operational color scale’s upper limit (10.7° km−1); reprocessing the level-II data revealed K DP >17° km−1, the highest documented in precipitation at S band. Electromagnetic scattering calculations using the T-matrix method confirm that large quantities of small melting hail mixed with heavy rain can plausibly explain the observed radar signatures.

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Carl G. Schmitt
,
Kara Sulia
,
Zachary J. Lebo
,
Andrew J. Heymsfield
,
Vanessa Przybyo
, and
Paul Connolly

Abstract

The terminal velocity (V t ) of ice hydrometeors is of high importance to atmospheric modeling. V t is governed by the physical characteristics of a hydrometeor, including mass and projected area, as well as environmental conditions. When liquid hydrometeors coalesce to form larger hydrometeors, the resulting hydrometeor can readily be characterized by its spherical or near-spherical shape. For ice hydrometeors, it is more complicated because of the variability of ice shapes possible in the atmosphere as well as the inherent randomness in the aggregation process, which leads to highly variable characteristics. The abundance of atmospheric processes affecting ice particle dimensional characteristics creates potential for highly variable V t for ice particles that are predicted or measured to be of the “same size.” In this article we explore the variability of ice hydrometeor V t both theoretically and through the use of experimental observations. Theoretically, the variability in V t is investigated by analyzing the microphysical characteristics of randomly aggregated hexagonal shapes. The modeled dimensional characteristics are then compared to aircraft probe measurements to constrain the variability in atmospheric ice hydrometeor V t . Results show that the spread in V t can be represented with Gaussian distributions relative to a mean. Variability expressed as the full width at half maximum of the normalized Gaussian probability distribution function is around 20%, with somewhat higher values associated with larger particle sizes and warmer temperatures. Field campaigns where mostly convective clouds were sampled displayed low variability, while Arctic and midlatitude winter campaigns showed broader V t spectra.

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