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Roy M. Rasmussen
,
Ben C. Bernstein
,
Masataka Murakami
,
Greg Stossmeister
,
Jon Reisner
, and
Boba Stankov

Abstract

The mesoscale and microscale structure and evolution of a shallow, upslope cloud is described using observations obtained during the Winter Icing and Storms Project (WISP) and model stimulations. The upslope cloud formed within a shallow arctic air mass that moved into the region east of the Rocky Mountains between 12 and 16 February and contained significant amounts of supercooled liquid water for nearly 30 h. Two distinct layers were evident in the cloud. The lower layer was near neutral stability (boundary layer air) and contained easterly upslope flow. The upper layer (frontal transition zone) was thermodynamically stable and contained southerly flow. Overlying the upslope cloud was a dry, southwesterly flow of 20–25 m s −1, resulting in strong wind shear near cloud top. Within 10 km of the Rocky Mountain barrier, easterly low-level flow was lifted up and over the mountains. The above-described kinematic and thermodynamic structure produced three distinct mechanisms leading to the production of supercooled liquid water: 1) upslope flow over the gently rising terrain leading into the Colorado Front Range, up the slopes of the Rocky Mountains and over local ridges, 2)upglide flow within a frontal transition zone, and 3) turbulent mixing in the boundary layer. Supercooled liquid water was also produced by 1) upward motion at the leading edge of three cold surges and 2) vertical motion produced by low-level convergence in the surface wind field. Large cloud droplets were present near the top of this cloud (approximately 50-µm diameter), which grew by a direct coalescence process into freezing drizzle in regions of the storm where the liquid water content was greater than 0.25 g m −3 and vertical velocity was at 10 cm s −1

Ice crystal concentrations greater than 1 L−1 were observed in the lower cloud layer containing boundary layer air when the top of the boundary layer air when the top of the boundary layer was colder than −12°C. The upper half of the cloud was ice-free despite temperatures as low as −15°C, resulting in long-lived supercooled liquid water in this region of the cloud.

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Douglas C. Schuster
,
Matthew S. Mayernik
,
Chung-Yi Hou
,
Greg Stossmeister
,
Robert R. Downs
,
Danie Kinkade
,
Tran B. Nguyen
,
Mohan Ramamurthy
, and
Fuqing Zhang
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Roy Rasmussen
,
Marcia Politovich
,
John Marwitz
,
Wayne Sand
,
John McGinley
,
John Smart
,
Roger Pielke
,
Steve Rutledge
,
Doug Wesley
,
Greg Stossmeister
,
Ben Bernstein
,
Kim Elmore
,
Nick Powell
,
Ed Westwater
,
B. Boba Stankov
, and
Don Burrows

Field studies in support of the Winter Icing and Storms Project (WISP) were conducted in the Colorado Front Range area from 1 February to 31 March 1990 (WISP90) and from 15 January to 5 April 1991 (WISP91). The main goals of the project are to study the processes leading to the formation and depletion of supercooled liquid water in winter storms and to improve forecasts of aircraft icing. During the two field seasons, 2 research aircraft, 4 Doppler radars, 49 Mesonet stations, 7 CLASS sounding systems, 3 microwave radiometers, and a number of other facilities were deployed in the Front Range area. A comprehensive dataset was obtained on 8 anticyclonic storms, 16 cyclonic storms, and 9 frontal passages.

This paper describes the objectives of the experiment, the facilities employed, the goals and results of a forecasting exercise, and applied research aspects of WISP. Research highlights are presented for several studies under way to illustrate the types of analysis being pursued. The examples chosen include topics on anticyclonic upslope storms, heavy snowfall, large droplets, shallow cold fronts, ice crystal formation and evolution, and numerical model performance.

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