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Erik R. Nielsen and Russ S. Schumacher


In some prominent extreme precipitation and flash flood events, radar and rain gauge observations have suggested that the heaviest short-term rainfall accumulations (up to 177 mm h−1) were associated with supercells or mesovortices embedded within larger convective systems. In this research, we aim to identify the influence that rotation has on the storm-scale processes associated with heavy precipitation. Numerical model simulations conducted herein were inspired by a rainfall event that occurred in central Texas in October 2015 where the most extreme rainfall accumulations were collocated with meso-β-scale vortices. Five total simulations were performed to test the sensitivity of precipitation processes to rotation. A control simulation, based on a wind profile from the aforementioned event, was compared with two experiments with successively weaker low-level shear. With greater environmental low-level shear, more precipitation fell, in both a point-maximum and an area-averaged sense. Intense, rotationally induced low-level vertical accelerations associated with the dynamic nonlinear perturbation vertical pressure gradient force were found to enhance the low- to midlevel updraft strength and total vertical mass flux and allowed access to otherwise inhibited sources of moisture and CAPE in the higher-shear simulations. The dynamical accelerations, which increased with the intensity of the low-level shear, dominated over buoyant accelerations in the low levels and were responsible for inducing more intense low-level updrafts that were sustained despite a stable boundary layer.

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