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Da-Lin Zhang

Abstract

There have been some ambiguities in recent observational studies as to whether midlevel mesovortices are induced by latent heating or cooling, and develop in the descending or ascending portion of mesoscale convective systems (MCS's). In this study, a comprehensive examination of a cooling-induced mesovortex in the trailing stratiform region of a midlatitude squall line that occurred on 10–11 June 1985 during the Preliminary Regional Experiment for STORM-Central (PRE-STORM) is presented using a 20-h high-resolution simulation of the squall system.

This cooling-induced midlevel vortex originates from the preexisting cyclonic vorticity associated with a traveling meso-α-scale short wave. The vortex is intensified in the descending rear-to-front (RTF) inflow as a result of continued sublimative melting and evaporative cooling in the stratiform region. It decouples from the front-to-rear (FTR) ascending and anticyclonic flow in the upper troposphere during the formative stage. The vortex tilts northward with height, resulting in a deep layer of cyclonic vorticity (up to 250 mb) near the northern end of the squall line. It has an across-line scale of 120–150 km and a longitudinal scale of more than 300 km, with its maximum intensity located above the melting level.

A three-dimensional vorticity budget shows that the cooling-induced vortex is initially maintained through the vertical stretching of its absolute vorticity associated with the short-wave trough. As the descending rear inflow develops within the system, the tilting of horizontal vorticity is about one order of magnitude larger than the stretching in determining the early intensification of the vortex. In most vortex layers, the stretching tends to destroy the vortex locally, owing to the existence of the divergent outflow in the lower troposphere. Only when the vortex propagates into the FTR-RTF flow interface does the stretching effect begin to control the final amplification of the vortex, and the tilting plays a negative role during the squall's decaying stage.

The model also reproduces well a narrow heating-induced (or warm-core) cyclonic vortex along the leading convective line and a deep anticyclonic-vorticity zone between the heating- and cooling-induced mesovortices. It is shown that the cyclonic vortex along the leading line develops through positive tilting and stretching, whereas the anticyclonic-vorticity zone is generated by tilting of horizontal vorticity by the FTR-ascending and RTF-descending flows, and later enhanced by negative stretching along the interface convergence zone. The warm-core vortex dissipates and eventually merges into the cooling-induced vortex circulation as the system advances into a convectively less favorable environment. The anticyclonic-vorticity zone rapidly diminishes as the cooling-induced vortex moves into the flow interface. At the end of the life cycle, the cooling-induced mesovortex becomes the only remaining element of the squall system that can be observed in a deep layer and at a larger scale in the low to midtroposphere. Different characteristics of heating-induced versus cooling-induced mesovortices and their relationships are discussed. The results suggest that mesovortices are ubiquitous in MCS's and that their pertinent mesoscale rotational flow may be the basic dynamic effect of MCS's on their larger-scale environments.

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Man Zhang and Da-Lin Zhang

Abstract

A nocturnal torrential-rain-producing mesoscale convective system (MCS) occurring during the mei-yu season of July 2003 in east China is studied using conventional observations, surface mesoanalysis, satellite and radar data, and a 24-h multinested model simulation with the finest grid spacing of 444 m. Observational analyses reveal the presence of several larger-scale conditions that were favorable for the development of the MCS, including mei-yu frontal lifting, moderate cold advection aloft and a moist monsoonal flow below, and an elongated old cold dome left behind by a previously dissipated MCS.

Results show that the model could reproduce the evolution of the dissipating MCS and its associated cold outflows, the triggering of three separate convective storms over the remnant cold dome and the subsequent organization into a large MCS, and the convective generation of an intense surface meso-high and meso-β-scale radar reflectivity morphologies. In particular, the model reproduces the passage of several heavy-rain-producing convective bands at the leading convective line and the trailing stratiform region, leading to the torrential rainfall at nearly the right location. However, many of the above features are poorly simulated or missed when the finest model grid uses either 1.33- or 4-km grid spacing. Results indicate the important roles of isentropic lifting of moist monsoonal air over the cold dome in triggering deep convection, a low-level jet within an elevated moist layer in maintaining conditional instability, and the repeated formation and movement of convective cells along the same path in producing the torrential rainfall.

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Nannan Qin and Da-Lin Zhang

Abstract

Hurricane Patricia (2015) broke records in both peak intensity and rapid intensification (RI) rate over the eastern Pacific basin. All of the then-operational models predicted less than half of its extraordinary intensity and RI rate, leaving a challenge for numerical modeling studies. In this study, a successful 42-h simulation of Patricia is obtained using a quintuply nested-grid version of the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) Model with the finest grid size of 333 m. Results show that the WRF Model, initialized with the Global Forecast System Final Analysis data only, could reproduce the track, peak intensity, and many inner-core features, as verified against various observations. In particular, its simulated maximum surface wind of 92 m s−1 is close to the observed 95 m s−1, capturing the unprecedented RI rate of 54 m s−1 (24 h)−1. In addition, the model reproduces an intense warm-cored eye, a small-sized eyewall with a radius of maximum wind of less than 10 km, and the distribution of narrow spiral rainbands. A series of sensitivity simulations is performed to help understand which model configurations are essential to reproducing the extraordinary intensity of the storm. Results reveal that Patricia’s extraordinary development and its many inner-core structures could be reasonably well simulated if ultrahigh horizontal resolution, appropriate model physics, and realistic initial vortex intensity are incorporated. It is concluded that the large-scale conditions (e.g., warm sea surface temperature, weak vertical wind shear, and the moist intertropical convergence zone) and convective organization play important roles in determining the predictability of Patricia’s extraordinary RI and peak intensity.

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Da-Lin Zhang and Kun Gao

Abstract

An intense rear-inflow jet, surface pressure perturbations, and stratiform precipitation associated with a squall line during 10–11 June 1985 are examined using a three-dimensional mesoscale nested-grid model. It is found that the large-scale baroclinity provides favorable and deep rear-to-front flow within the upper half of the troposphere and the mesoscale response to convective forcing helps enhance the trailing extensive rear inflow. However, latent cooling and water loading are directly responsible for the generation of the descending portion of the rear inflow. The role of the rear inflow is generally to produce convergence ahead and divergence behind the system, and thus assist the rapid acceleration of the leading convection when the prestorm environment is convectively favorable and the rapid dissipation of the convection when encountering unfavorable conditions. In this case study, the rear-inflow jet appears to have caused the splitting of the surface wake low as well as the organized rainfall.

As considerable mass within the rear inflow subsides, an intense surface wake low is formed at the back edge of the squall system. This result confirms previous observations that the surface wake low develops hydrostatically as a consequence of adiabatic warming and drying by the descending rear inflow. The wake low is shown to be an end product of complicated reactions involving condensate production, fallout cooling and induced subsiding motion. It does not have any significant effects on the evolution of atmospheric features ahead but contributes to vertical destabilization over the wake region.

The simulation shows that the squall line initially leans downshear and later upshear as the low-level cold pool progressively builds up and the system moves into a convectively stable environment. During the mature stage, there are three distinct airflows associated with the squall system: a leading overturning updraft and an ascending front-to-rear (FTR) current that both are driven by high-θe, air from the boundary layer ahead of the line, and an overturning downdraft carrying low-θe, air from the rear. These features resemble previously published results using nonhydrostatic cloud models. Due to continuous deposit of FTR momentum at the upper levels, the FTR updraft is responsible for the rearward transport of high-θe, air mass for the generation of the trailing stratiform precipitation.

Several sensitivity experiments are conducted. The generation of the descending rear inflow, and the surface and midlevel pressure perturbations are found to be most sensitive to the parameterized moist downdrafts, hydrostatic water loading, evaporative cooling and ice ice microphysics, in that order. Without any one of these model processes, neither the rear inflow reaches the surface nor the surface mesohigh and wake low become well developed. The results illustrate that the descending rear inflow is a product of the dynamic response to the latent-cooling-induced circulation. Different roles of the parameterized versus grid-resolved downdrafts in the development of the descending rear inflow are also discussed.

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Tong Zhu and Da-Lin Zhang

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In this study, the effects of various cloud microphysics processes on the hurricane intensity, precipitation, and inner-core structures are examined with a series of 5-day explicit simulations of Hurricane Bonnie (1998), using the results presented in Part I as a control run. It is found that varying cloud microphysics processes produces little sensitivity in hurricane track, except for very weak and shallow storms, but it produces pronounced departures in hurricane intensity and inner-core structures.

Specifically, removing ice microphysics produces the weakest (15-hPa underdeepening) and shallowest storm with widespread cloud water but little rainwater in the upper troposphere. Removing graupel from the control run generates a weaker hurricane with a wider area of precipitation and more cloud coverage in the eyewall due to the enhanced horizontal advection of hydrometeors relative to the vertical fallouts (or increased water loading). Turning off the evaporation of cloud water and rainwater leads to the most rapid deepening storm (i.e., 90 hPa in 48 h) with the smallest radius but a wider eyewall and the strongest eyewall updrafts. The second strongest storm, but with the most amount of rainfall, is obtained when the melting effect is ignored. It is found that the cooling due to melting is more pronounced in the eyewall where more frozen hydrometeors, especially graupel, are available, whereas the evaporative cooling occurs more markedly when the storm environment is more unsaturated.

It is shown that stronger storms tend to show more compact eyewalls with heavier precipitation and more symmetric structures in the warm-cored eye and in the eyewall. It is also shown that although the eyewall replacement scenarios occur as the simulated storms move into weak-sheared environments, the associated inner-core structural changes, timing, and location differ markedly, depending on the hurricane intensity. That is, the eyewall convection in weak storms tends to diminish shortly after being encircled by an outer rainband, whereas both the cloud band and the inner eyewall in strong storms tend to merge to form a new eyewall with a larger radius. The results indicate the importance of the Bergeron processes, including the growth and rapid fallout of graupel in the eyewall, and the latent heat of fusion in determining the intensity and inner-core structures of hurricanes, and the vulnerability of weak storms to the influence of large-scale sheared flows in terms of track, inner-core structures, and intensity changes.

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William Miller and Da-Lin Zhang

Abstract

Hurricane Joaquin (2015) took a climatologically unusual track southwestward into the Bahamas before recurving sharply out to sea. Several operational forecast models, including the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Global Forecast System (GFS), struggled to maintain the southwest motion in their early cycles and instead forecast the storm to turn west and then northwest, striking the U.S. coast. Early cycle GFS track errors are diagnosed using a tropical cyclone (TC) motion error budget equation and found to result from the model 1) not maintaining a sufficiently strong mid- to upper-level ridge northwest of Joaquin, and 2) generating a shallow vortex that did not interact strongly with upper-level northeasterly steering winds. High-resolution model simulations are used to test the sensitivity of Joaquin’s track forecast to both error sources. A control (CTL) simulation, initialized with an analysis generated from cycled hybrid data assimilation, successfully reproduces Joaquin’s observed rapid intensification and southwestward-looping track. A comparison of CTL with sensitivity runs from perturbed analyses confirms that a sufficiently strong mid- to upper-level ridge northwest of Joaquin and a vortex deep enough to interact with northeasterly flows associated with this ridge are both necessary for steering Joaquin southwestward. Contraction and vertical alignment of the CTL vortex during the early forecast period may have also helped draw the low-level vortex center southward. The results indicate that for TCs developing in vertically sheared environments, improved inner-core sampling by means of cloudy radiances and aircraft reconnaissance missions may help reduce track forecast errors by improving the model estimate of vortex depth.

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Xingbao Wang and Da-Lin Zhang

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Because of the lack of three-dimensional (3D) high-resolution data and the existence of highly nonelliptic flows, few studies have been conducted to investigate the inner-core quasi-balanced characteristics of hurricanes. In this study, a potential vorticity (PV) inversion system is developed, which includes the nonconservative processes of friction, diabatic heating, and water loading. It requires hurricane flows to be statically and inertially stable but allows for the presence of small negative PV. To facilitate the PV inversion with the nonlinear balance (NLB) equation, hurricane flows are decomposed into an axisymmetric, gradient-balanced reference state and asymmetric perturbations. Meanwhile, the nonellipticity of the NLB equation is circumvented by multiplying a small parameter ε and combining it with the PV equation, which effectively reduces the influence of anticyclonic vorticity. A quasi-balanced ω equation in pseudoheight coordinates is derived, which includes the effects of friction and diabatic heating as well as differential vorticity advection and the Laplacians of thermal advection by both nondivergent and divergent winds.

This quasi-balanced PV–ω inversion system is tested with an explicit simulation of Hurricane Andrew (1992) with the finest grid size of 6 km. It is shown that (a) the PV–ω inversion system could recover almost all typical features in a hurricane, and (b) a sizeable portion of the 3D hurricane flows are quasi-balanced, such as the intense rotational winds, organized eyewall updrafts and subsidence in the eye, cyclonic inflow in the boundary layer, and upper-level anticyclonic outflow. It is found, however, that the boundary layer cyclonic inflow and upper-level anticyclonic outflow also contain significant unbalanced components. In particular, a low-level outflow jet near the top of the boundary layer is found to be highly unbalanced (and supergradient). These findings are supported by both locally calculated momentum budgets and globally inverted winds. The results indicate that this PV inversion system could be utilized as a tool to separate the unbalanced from quasi-balanced flows for studies of balanced dynamics and propagating inertial gravity waves in hurricane vortices.

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Da-Lin Zhang and Ning Bao

Abstract

Recent observations have revealed that some mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) could undergo multiple cycles of convective development and dissipation, and, under certain environments, they appeared to be responsible for (barotropic) oceanic or tropical cyclogenesis. In this study, oceanic cyclogenesis, as induced by an MCS moving offshore and then driven by deep convection in a near-barotropic environment, is investigated by extending to 90 h the previously documented 18-h simulation of the MCSs that were responsible for the July 1977 Johnstown flash flood. It is demonstrated that the mesoscale model can reproduce very well much of the meso-β-scale structures and evolution of the long-lived MCS out to 90 h. These include the development and dissipation of the continental MCSs as well as the associated surface and tropospheric perturbations, the timing and location in the initiation of a new MCS after 36 h and in the genesis of a surface mesolow over the warm Gulf Stream water after 60-h integration, the track and the deepening of the surface cyclone into a “tropical storm,” the maintenance of a midlevel mesovortex/trough system, and the propagation of a large-scale cold front with respect to the surface cyclone.

It is found that the new MCS is triggered after the vortex/trough moved offshore and interacted with the land-ocean thermal contrasts during the afternoon hours. The oceanic cyclogenesis begins at 150–180 km to the south of the vortex, as the associated surface trough advances into the Gulf Stream and weakens. Then, the cyclone overpowers quickly the low-level portion of the vortex circulation and deepens 14 hPa in 24 h. A comparison with a dry sensitivity simulation shows that the cyclogenesis occurs entirely as a consequence of the convective forcing. Without it, an 84-h simulation produces only a surface trough with the minimum pressure being nearly the same as that left behind by the previous MCSs. It is shown that the vortex/trough provides persistent convergence at its southern periphery for the continued convective development, whereas the convectively enhanced low-level flow tends to (i) “pump” up sensible and latent heat fluxes from the warm ocean surface and (ii) transport the high-θe air in a slantwise fashion into the region having lower θe aloft, thereby causing further conditional instability, increased convection, and more rapid deepening. The interactions of the continental MCS/vortex and the oceanic cyclone/storm systems with their larger-scale environments are also discussed.

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Hua Chen and Da-Lin Zhang

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Previous studies have focused mostly on the roles of environmental factors in the rapid intensification (RI) of tropical cyclones (TCs) because of the lack of high-resolution data in inner-core regions. In this study, the RI of TCs is examined by analyzing the relationship between an upper-level warm core, convective bursts (CBs), sea surface temperature (SST), and surface pressure falls from 72-h cloud-permitting predictions of Hurricane Wilma (2005) with the finest grid size of 1 km. Results show that both the upper-level inertial stability increases and static stability decreases sharply 2–3 h prior to RI, and that the formation of an upper-level warm core, from the subsidence of stratospheric air associated with the detrainment of CBs, coincides with the onset of RI. It is found that the development of CBs precedes RI, but most subsidence warming radiates away by gravity waves and storm-relative flows. In contrast, many fewer CBs occur during RI, but more subsidence warming contributes to the balanced upper-level cyclonic circulation in the warm-core (as intense as 20°C) region. Furthermore, considerable CB activity can still take place in the outer eyewall as the storm weakens during its eyewall replacement. A sensitivity simulation, in which SSTs are reduced by 1°C, shows pronounced reductions in the upper-level warm-core intensity and CB activity. It is concluded that significant CB activity in the inner-core regions is an important ingredient in generating the upper-level warm core that is hydrostatically more efficient for the RI of TCs, given all of the other favorable environmental conditions.

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Stéphane Bélair and Da-Lin Zhang

Abstract

Despite considerable progress in the understanding of two-dimensional structures of squall lines, little attention has been paid to the along-line variability of these convective systems. In this study, the roles of meso- and larger-scale circulations in the generation of along-line variability of squall lines are investigated, using an 18-h prediction of a frontal squall line that occurred on 26–27 June 1985 during PRE-STORM (Preliminary Regional Experiment for Stormscale Operational Research Meteorology). It is shown that the Canadian regional finite-element (RFE) model reproduces reasonably well a number of surface and vertical circulation structures of the squall system, as verified against available network observations. These include the initiation, propagation, and dissipation of the squall system, surface pressure perturbations, and cold outflow boundaries; a midlevel mesolow and an upper-level mesohigh; a front-to-rear (FTR) ascending flow overlying an intense rear-to-front (RTF) flow; and a leading convective line followed by stratiform precipitation regions.

It is found that across-line circulations at the northern segment of the squall line differ significantly from those at its southern segment, including the different types of precipitation, the absence of the RTF flow and midlevel mesolow, and the early dissipation of organized convection in the northern part. The along-line variability of the squall’s circulations results primarily from the interaction of convectively generated perturbations with a midlevel baroclinic trough. The large-scale trough provides an extensive RTF flow component in the southern portion of the squall system and an FTR flow component in the north, whereas the midlevel mesolow tends to enhance the RTF flow to the south and the FTR flow to the north of the mesolow during the mature to decaying stages. The along-line variability of the squall’s circulations appears to be partly responsible for the generation of different weather conditions along the line, such as the development of an upper-level stratiform region in the southern segment and a midlevel cloud region in the northern portion of the squall line.

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