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Robert H. Johns

Abstract

A climatology of meteorological parameters and synoptic patterns associated with severe weather outbreaks occurring in arm where the mid-tropospheric flow has a north of west component is presented. This climatology utilizes data and criteria previously described by Johns. A comparison of the northwest flow parameters and those associated with general severe weather is given. The importance of conditional instability and low-level warm advection in northwest flow situations is discussed. An explanation is offered for the location of the axes of highest frequency of northwest flow outbreaks. Furthermore, the varying nature of wind shear associated with severe weather is discussed and the importance of the directional contribution of wind shear to northwest flow severe weather is demonstrated.

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Robert H. Johns

Abstract

A climatology of severe weather outbreaks occurring in areas of the contiguous United States where the mid-troposphere flow has a north of west component has been developed for the period 1962–77. During the 16 years, 163 outbreaks of severe weather have been identified that fit a specific set of criteria for “northwest flow”. Analyses of this data set reveal the diurnal, seasonal and geographical frequencies and characteristics of this phenomenon. The nature of “northwest flow” outbreaks is examined in relation to the effect on life and property.

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Alexander J. Roberts, John H. Marsham, and Peter Knippertz

Abstract

Reanalysis and operational analysis products are routinely used as the best estimates of the atmospheric state for operational and research purposes. However, different models, assimilation techniques, and assimilated datasets lead to differences between products. Here, such differences in the distribution of low-level water vapor over summertime West Africa are analyzed, as reflected in the zonal mean position of the leading edge of the West African monsoon [the intertropical discontinuity (ITD)] using five reanalyses [NCEP–NCAR, NCEP–Department of Energy (DOE), the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA), the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR), and the Interim ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim)] and two operational analyses [Global Forecast System (GFS) and ECMWF] during the 11 monsoon seasons (April–September) from 2000 to 2010. Specific humidity differences regularly reach 50% of the mean value over areas spanning hundreds of kilometers and often coincide with northward excursions of the ITD that last several days and bring unusual rainfall to the Sahel and Sahara. The largest disagreements occur during the southward retreat of the ITD and are connected with anomalously high values of aerosol optical depth, consistent with the production of haboob dust storms. The results suggest that known errors in the representation of moist convection and cold pools may contribute to the identified disagreements. A large reduction in disagreement occurs in 2006, when upper-air observations were enhanced during the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) campaign, pointing to an insufficient observational constraint of the (re)analyses in other years. It is hoped that this work will raise awareness of the limited reliability of (re)analysis products over West Africa during the summer, particularly during northward surges of the ITD, and will instigate further work to improve their quality.

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Oscar Martínez-Alvarado, Laura H. Baker, Suzanne L. Gray, John Methven, and Robert S. Plant

Abstract

Strong winds equatorward and rearward of a cyclone core have often been associated with two phenomena: the cold conveyor belt (CCB) jet and sting jets. Here, detailed observations of the mesoscale structure in this region of an intense cyclone are analyzed. The in situ and dropsonde observations were obtained during two research flights through the cyclone during the Diabatic Influences on Mesoscale Structures in Extratropical Storms (DIAMET) field campaign. A numerical weather prediction model is used to link the strong wind regions with three types of “airstreams” or coherent ensembles of trajectories: two types are identified with the CCB, hooking around the cyclone center, while the third is identified with a sting jet, descending from the cloud head to the west of the cyclone. Chemical tracer observations show for the first time that the CCB and sting jet airstreams are distinct air masses even when the associated low-level wind maxima are not spatially distinct. In the model, the CCB experiences slow latent heating through weak-resolved ascent and convection, while the sting jet experiences weak cooling associated with microphysics during its subsaturated descent. Diagnosis of mesoscale instabilities in the model shows that the CCB passes through largely stable regions, while the sting jet spends relatively long periods in locations characterized by conditional symmetric instability (CSI). The relation of CSI to the observed mesoscale structure of the bent-back front and its possible role in the cloud banding is discussed.

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Beth J. Woodhams, Cathryn E. Birch, John H. Marsham, Caroline L. Bain, Nigel M. Roberts, and Douglas F. A. Boyd

ABSTRACT

Forecasting convective rainfall in the tropics is a major challenge for numerical weather prediction. The use of convection-permitting (CP) forecast models in the tropics has lagged behind the midlatitudes, despite the great potential of such models in this region. In the scientific literature, there is very little evaluation of CP models in the tropics, especially over an extended time period. This paper evaluates the prediction of convective storms for a period of 2 years in the Met Office operational CP model over East Africa and the global operational forecast model. A novel localized form of the fractions skill score is introduced, which shows variation in model skill across the spatial domain. Overall, the CP model and the global model both outperform a 24-h persistence forecast. The CP model shows greater skill than the global model, in particular on subdaily time scales and for storms over land. Forecasts over Lake Victoria are also improved in the CP model, with an increase in hit rate of up to 20%. Contrary to studies in the midlatitudes, the skill of both models shows a large dependence on the time of day and comparatively little dependence on the forecast lead time within a 48-h forecast. Although these results provide more motivation for forecasters to use the CP model to produce subdaily forecasts with increased detail, there is a clear need for more in situ observations for data assimilation into the models and for verification. A move toward ensemble forecasting could have further benefits.

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Thorwald H. M. Stein, Robin J. Hogan, Kirsty E. Hanley, John C. Nicol, Humphrey W. Lean, Robert S. Plant, Peter A. Clark, and Carol E. Halliwell

Abstract

A set of high-resolution radar observations of convective storms has been collected to evaluate such storms in the Met Office Unified Model during the Dynamical and Microphysical Evolution of Convective Storms (DYMECS) project. The 3-GHz Chilbolton Advanced Meteorological Radar was set up with a scan-scheduling algorithm to automatically track convective storms identified in real time from the operational rainfall radar network. More than 1000 storm observations gathered over 15 days in 2011 and 2012 are used to evaluate the model under various synoptic conditions supporting convection. In terms of the detailed three-dimensional morphology, storms in the 1500-m grid length simulations are shown to produce horizontal structures a factor of 1.5–2 wider compared to radar observations. A set of nested model runs at grid lengths down to 100 m show that the models converge in terms of storm width, but the storm structures in the simulations with the smallest grid lengths are too narrow and too intense compared to the radar observations. The modeled storms were surrounded by a region of drizzle without ice reflectivities above 0 dBZ aloft, which was related to the dominance of ice crystals and was improved by allowing only aggregates as an ice particle habit. Simulations with graupel outperformed the standard configuration for heavy-rain profiles, but the storm structures were a factor of 2 too wide and the convective cores 2 km too deep.

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Joannes J. Westerink, Richard A. Luettich, Jesse C. Feyen, John H. Atkinson, Clint Dawson, Hugh J. Roberts, Mark D. Powell, Jason P. Dunion, Ethan J. Kubatko, and Hasan Pourtaheri

Abstract

Southern Louisiana is characterized by low-lying topography and an extensive network of sounds, bays, marshes, lakes, rivers, and inlets that permit widespread inundation during hurricanes. A basin- to channel-scale implementation of the Advanced Circulation (ADCIRC) unstructured grid hydrodynamic model has been developed that accurately simulates hurricane storm surge, tides, and river flow in this complex region. This is accomplished by defining a domain and computational resolution appropriate for the relevant processes, specifying realistic boundary conditions, and implementing accurate, robust, and highly parallel unstructured grid numerical algorithms.

The model domain incorporates the western North Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea so that interactions between basins and the shelf are explicitly modeled and the boundary condition specification of tidal and hurricane processes can be readily defined at the deep water open boundary. The unstructured grid enables highly refined resolution of the complex overland region for modeling localized scales of flow while minimizing computational cost. Kinematic data assimilative or validated dynamic-modeled wind fields provide the hurricane wind and pressure field forcing. Wind fields are modified to incorporate directional boundary layer changes due to overland increases in surface roughness, reduction in effective land roughness due to inundation, and sheltering due to forested canopies. Validation of the model is achieved through hindcasts of Hurricanes Betsy and Andrew. A model skill assessment indicates that the computed peak storm surge height has a mean absolute error of 0.30 m.

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