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Kelly Lombardo

Abstract

Idealized 3D numerical simulations are used to quantify the impact of moving marine atmospheric boundary layers (MABLs) on squall lines in an environment representative of the U.S. mid-Atlantic coastal plain. Characteristics of the MABL, including depth and potential temperature, are varied. Squall lines are most intense while moving over the deepest MABLs, while the storm encountering no MABL is the weakest. Storm intensity is only sensitive to MABL temperature when the MABL is sufficiently deep. Collisions between the storm cold pools and MABLs transition storm lift from surface-based cold pools to wavelike features, with the resulting ascent mechanism dependent on MABL density, not depth. Bores form when the MABL is denser than the cold pool and hybrid cold pool–bores form when the densities are similar. While these features support storms over the MABL, the type of lifting mechanism does not control storm intensity alone. Storm intensity depends on the amplification and maintenance of these features, which is determined by the ambient conditions. Isolated convective cells form ahead of squall lines prior to the cold pool–MABL collision, resulting in a rain peak and the eventual discrete propagation of the storms. Cells form as storm-generated high-frequency gravity waves interact with gravity waves generated by the moving marine layers, in the presence of reduced stability by the squall line itself. No cells form in the presence of the storm or the MABL alone.

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Kelly Lombardo
and
Tristan Kading

Abstract

Inland squall lines respond to the stable marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL) as they move toward a coastline and offshore. As a storm’s cold pool collides with the marine layer, characteristics of both determine the resulting convective forcing mechanism over the stable layer and storm characteristics. Idealized numerical experiments exploring a parameter space of MABL characteristics show that the postcollision forcing mechanism is determined by the buoyancy of the cold pool relative to the MABL. When the outflow is less buoyant, storms are forced by a cold pool within the marine environment. When the buoyancies are equivalent, a hybrid cold pool–internal gravity wave develops after the collision. The collision between a cold pool and less buoyant MABL initiates internal waves along the stable layer, regardless of MABL depth. These waves are inefficient at lifting air into the storm, and ascent from the trailing cold pool is needed to support deep convection. Storm intensity decreases with deeper and less buoyant MABLs, in part due to the reduction in elevated instability. Precipitation is enhanced just prior to the collision between a storm and the deepest marine layers. Storms modify their environment downstream, leading to the development of a moist adiabatic unstable layer and a lowering of the level of free convection (LFC) to below the top of the deepest marine layer. An MABL moving as a sea breeze into the storm-modified air successfully lifts parcels to the new LFC, generating convective towers ahead of the squall line. This mechanism may contribute to increased coastal flash flooding risks during observed events.

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Fan Wu
and
Kelly Lombardo

Abstract

A mechanism for precipitation enhancement in squall lines moving over mountainous coastal regions is quantified through idealized numerical simulations. Storm intensity and precipitation peak over the sloping terrain as storms descend from an elevated plateau toward the coastline and encounter the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL). Storms are most intense as they encounter the deepest MABLs. As the descending storm outflow collides with a moving MABL (sea breeze), surface and low-level air parcels initially accelerate upward, though their ultimate trajectory is governed by the magnitude of the negative nonhydrostatic inertial pressure perturbation behind the cold pool leading edge. For shallow MABLs, the baroclinic gradient across the gust front generates large horizontal vorticity, a low-level negative pressure perturbation, and thus a downward acceleration of air parcels following their initial ascent. A deep MABL reduces the baroclinically generated vorticity, leading to a weaker pressure perturbation and minimal downward acceleration, allowing air to accelerate into a storm’s updraft. Once storms move away from the terrain base and over the full depth of the MABLs, storms over the deepest MABLs decay most rapidly, while those over the shallowest MABLs initially intensify. Though elevated ascent exists above all MABLs, the deepest MABLs substantially reduce the depth of the high-θ e layer above the MABLs and limit instability. This relationship is insensitive to MABL temperature, even though surface-based ascent is present for the less cold MABLs, the MABL thermal deficit is smaller, and convective available potential energy (CAPE) is higher.

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Kelly A. Lombardo
and
Brian A. Colle

Abstract

Organized convective structures over the northeastern United States were classified for two warm seasons (May–August) using 2-km composite radar [i.e., the National Operational Weather Radar (NOWrad)] data. Nine structures were identified: three types of cellular convection (clusters of cells, isolated cells, and broken lines), five types of linear convection (lines with no stratiform precipitation, lines with trailing stratiform precipitation, lines with parallel stratiform precipitation, lines with leading stratiform precipitation, and bow echoes), and one nonlinear system. The occurrence of all structures decreases from the western Appalachian slopes eastward to the Atlantic coast. Isolated cellular convection forms primarily during the morning to late afternoon (1200–2100 UTC) mainly over the high terrain. Clusters of cells form primarily over the Appalachians and the Atlantic coastal plain during the daytime (1200–0000 UTC). Linear convection is favored from midafternoon to early evening (1800–0000 UTC) over land areas. Nonlinear systems develop mainly from midafternoon to late evening (1800–0600 UTC) over the inland areas and over the coastal zone during the early morning (∼1200 UTC).

Composites using the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) highlight the ambient conditions for three main convective structures: cellular, linear, and nonlinear. Cellular convection initiates with limited quasigeostrophic forcing and moderate instability [i.e., average most unstable CAPE (MUCAPE) ∼973 J kg−1]. A majority of cells develop in orographically favored upslope areas. Linear convection organizes along surface troughs, supported by 900-hPa frontogenesis and an average ambient MUCAPE of ∼1011 J kg−1. Nonlinear convection organizes along warm fronts associated with larger-scale baroclinic systems, and the MUCAPE is relatively small (∼207 J kg−1).

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Kelly Lombardo
and
Brian A. Colle

Abstract

This paper explores the structural evolution and physical processes that explain the modification of two quasi-linear convective systems (QLCSs) that encountered the densely populated New York City–Atlantic coastal region. One QLCS on 31 May 2002 traversed the Atlantic coastal boundary with little change in its intensity, producing widespread severe wind damage across New York City and Long Island. During this event, warm air advection at 925 hPa helped destabilize the layer above this level over the coastal zone, while the marine boundary layer deepened below this level. The 0–3-km line-perpendicular vertical wind shear was relatively strong, which supported ascent along the leading edge of the diabatically generated cold pool. The surface-based convective system became slightly elevated as it moved over the marine waters. In contrast, the 23 July 2002 QLCS decayed upon encountering the Atlantic coastline, despite its coincidence with a surface cold front. The most unstable CAPE values during this decaying event were 400–800 J kg−1 greater than the sustaining 31 May event, though the 0–3-km vertical wind shear was approximately half. Weaker shear likely contributed to limited ascent along the leading edge of the surface based cold pool, and ultimately the demise of the convective line. Sensitivity tests highlight the importance of the relationship between the cold pool and vertical shear during these two events, and illustrate the limited role of the marine layer in modifying the evolution of these two convective systems.

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Matthew R. Kumjian
and
Kelly A. Lombardo

Abstract

The recent Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) network upgrade to dual-polarization capabilities allows for bulk characterization of microphysical processes in northeastern U.S. winter storms for the first time. In this study, the quasi-vertical profile (QVP) technique (wherein data from a given elevation angle scan are azimuthally averaged and the range coordinate is converted to height) is extended and applied to polarimetric WSR-88D observations of six Northeast winter storms to survey their evolving, bulk vertical microphysical and kinematic structures. These analyses are supplemented using hourly analyses from the Rapid Refresh (RAP) model. Regions of ascent inferred from QVPs were consistently associated with notable polarimetric signatures, implying planar crystal growth when near −15°C, and riming and secondary ice production at higher temperatures. The heaviest snowfall occurred most often when ascent and enhanced propagation differential phase shift ( ) occurred near −15°C. When available, limited surface observations confirmed heavy snowfall rates and revealed large snow-to-liquid ratios at these times. Other cases revealed sudden, large melting-layer excursions associated with precipitation-type transitions near the surface. RAP analyses failed to capture such complex evolution, demonstrating the added value of dual-polarization radar observations in these scenarios and the potential use of radar data for assessing model performance in real time. These insights are a preliminary step toward better understanding the complex processes in northeastern U.S. winter storms.

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Kelly A. Lombardo
and
Brian A. Colle

Abstract

Quasi-linear convective systems (QLCSs) crossing the Atlantic coastline over the northeastern United States were classified into three categories based on their evolution upon encountering the coast. Composite analyses show that convective lines that decay near the Atlantic coast or slowly decay over the coastal waters are associated with 900–800-hPa frontogenesis, with greater ambient 0–3-km vertical wind shear for the slowly decaying lines. Systems that maintain their intensity over the coastal ocean are associated with 900-hPa warm air advection, but with little low-level frontogenetical forcing. Neither sea surface temperature nor ambient instability was a clear delimiter between the three evolutions. Sustaining convective lines have the strongest environmental 0–3-km shear of the three types, and this shear increases as these systems approach the coast. In contrast, the low-level shear decreases as decaying and slowly decaying convective lines move toward the Atlantic coastline. There was also a weaker mean surface cold pool for the sustaining systems than the two types of decaying QLCSs, which may favor a more long-lived system if the horizontal vorticity from this cold pool is more balanced by low-level vertical shear.

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John Molinari
,
Kelly Lombardo
, and
David Vollaro

Abstract

A packet of equatorial Rossby (ER) waves that lasted 2.5 months is identified in the lower troposphere of the northwest Pacific. Waves within the packet had a period of 22 days, a wavelength of 3600 km, a westward phase speed of 1.9 m s−1, and a near-zero group speed. The wave properties followed the ER wave dispersion relation with an equivalent depth near 25 m. The packet was associated with the development of at least 8 of the 13 tropical cyclones that formed during the period. A composite was constructed around the genesis locations. Tropical cyclones formed east of the center of the composite ER wave low in a region of strong convection and a separate 850-hPa vorticity maximum.

The background flow during the life of the packet was characterized by 850-hPa zonal wind convergence and easterly vertical wind shear. Wave amplitude peaked at the west end of the convergent region, suggesting that wave accumulation played a significant role in the growth of the packet. The presence of easterly vertical wind shear provided an environment that trapped energy in the lower troposphere. Each of these processes increases wave amplitude and thus the likelihood of tropical cyclone formation within the waves.

The initial low pressure region within the wave packet met Lander’s definition of a monsoon gyre. It developed to the west of persistent localized convection that followed the penetration of an upper-tropospheric trough into the subtropics. It is argued that the monsoon gyre represented the initial ER wave low within the packet.

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Kelly Lombardo
and
Matthew R. Kumjian

Abstract

During the early morning hours of 5 November 2018, a mature mesoscale convective system (MCS) propagated discretely over the second-most populous province of Argentina, Córdoba Province, during the Remote Sensing of Electrification, Lightning, and Mesoscale/Microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations–Cloud, Aerosol, and Complex Terrain Interactions (RELAMPAGO–CACTI) joint field campaigns. Storm behavior was modified by the Sierras de Córdoba, a north–south-oriented regional mountain chain located in the western side of the province. Here, we present observational evidence of the discrete propagation event and the impact of the mountains on the associated physical processes. As the mature MCS moved northeastward and approached the windward side of the mountains, isolated convective cells developed downstream in the mountain lee, 20–50 km ahead of the main convective line. Cells were initiated by an undular bore, which formed as the MCS cold pool moved over the mountain ridge and perturbed the leeside nocturnal, low-level stable layer. The field of isolated cells organized into a new MCS, which continued to move northeastward, while the parent storm decayed as it traversed the mountains. Only the southern portion of the storm propagated discretely, due to variability in mountain height along the chain. In the north, taller mountain peaks prevented the MCS cold pool from moving over the terrain and perturbing the stable layer. Consequently, no bore was generated, and no discrete propagation occurred in this region. To the south, the MCS cold pool was able to traverse the lower-relief mountains, and the discrete propagation was successful.

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Kelly A. Lombardo
and
Brian A. Colle

Abstract

This study documents the convective storm structures and ambient conditions associated with severe storms (wind, hail, and tornado) over the northeastern United States for two warm seasons (May–August), including 2007 and a warm season comprising randomly selected days from 2002 to 2006. The storms were classified into three main convective organizational structures (cellular, linear, and nonlinear) as well as several subcategories. The same procedure was applied to the highly populated coastal zone of the northeastern United States, including New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York. The coastal analysis included six warm seasons from 2002 to 2007. Over the Northeast, severe wind events are evenly distributed among the cellular, linear, and nonlinear structures. Cellular structures are the primary hail producers, while tornadoes develop mainly from cellular and linear structures. Over the coastal zone, primarily cellular and linear systems produce severe wind and hail, while tornadoes are equally likely from all three convective structures. Composites were generated for severe weather days over the coastal region for the three main convective structures. On average, severe cellular events develop during moderate instability [most unstable CAPE (MUCAPE) ~1200 J kg−1], with low-level warm-air advection and frontogenesis at the leading edge of a thermal ridge collocated with an Appalachian lee trough. Severe linear events develop in a similar mean environment as the cellular events, except that most linear events occur with a surface trough upstream over the Ohio River valley and half of the linear events develop just ahead of progressive midlevel troughs. Nonlinear severe events develop with relatively weak mean convective instability (MUCAPE ~460 J kg−1), but they are supported by midlevel quasigeostrophic (QG) forcing for ascent.

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