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Douglas A. Wesley
and
Stephen K. Cox

Abstract

The diffusional mass evolution of hydrometeors in upper tropospheric clouds for various radiative conditions in the cloud and for varying ambient moisture Supply is simulated using a time dependent microphysical model. Radiation can play an important role in this mass evolution when only one phase is present. When both liquid droplets and ice crystals are situated in a typical upper tropospheric environment and the moisture supply is limited, radiation produces only a minor effect on the mass evolution of the hydrometeors. In these cases ice crystals grow quickly at the expense of the droplets and the droplets evaporate within several minutes, even under water supersaturation conditions. Radiation does not significantly influence the evaporation rates of the droplets in the coexisting cases. In the absence of ice crystals and under certain radiative conditions, the droplets can evaporate when the environment is supersaturated.

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Douglas A. Wesley
,
Roy M. Rasmussen
, and
Ben C. Bernstein

Abstract

The Longmont anticyclone, a region of low-level anticyclonic turning and convergence during episodes of northerly winds along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, is documented for a snow event that occurred during the Winter Icing and Storms Project. The complex terrain in this region, especially the barrier to the west and the sloping Cheyenne Ridge to the north, is critical for the formation of this mesoscale feature. Upward motions related to this persistent convergent region downstream of the Cheyenne Ridge can strongly influence local snowfall distributions. The particular event studied in this manuscript was weakly forced on the synoptic scale. Through close examination of Doppler radar, special sounding and surface mesonetwork data, the effects of the Longmont anticyclone on snowfall were determined. The results of the analyses suggest that the convergence triggered convective snowbands in a region of delayed postfrontal cold advection at low levels. A series of mesoscale model simulations predicted the behavior of low-level northerly flow along the Front Range and demonstrated the role of the terrain during the development of the Longmont anticyclone. The results of these simulations were compared to the case study results.

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Gregory S. Poulos
,
Douglas A. Wesley
,
John S. Snook
, and
Michael P. Meyers

Abstract

Over the 3-day period of 24–26 October 1997, a powerful winter storm was the cause of two exceptional weather phenomena: 1) blizzard conditions from Wyoming to southern New Mexico along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and 2) hurricane-force winds at the surface near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with the destruction of about 5300 ha of old-growth forest. This rare event was caused by a deep, cutoff low pressure system that provided unusually strong, deep easterly flow over the Front Range for an extended period. The event was characterized by highly variable snowfall and some very large snowfall totals; over a horizontal distance of 15 km, in some cases, snowfall varied by as much as 1.0 m, with maximum total snowfall depths near 1.5 m. Because this variability was caused, in part, by terrain effects, this work investigates the capability of a mesoscale model constructed in terrain-following coordinates (the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System: RAMS) to forecast small-scale (meso γ), orographically forced spatial variability of the snowfall. There are few investigations of model-forecast liquid precipitation versus observations at meso-γ-scale horizontal grid spacing. Using a limited observational dataset, mean absolute percent errors of precipitation (liquid equivalent) of 41% and 9% were obtained at horizontal grid spacings of 5.00 and 1.67 km, respectively. A detailed, high-temporal-resolution (30-min intervals) comparison of modeled versus actual snowfall rates at a fully instrumented snow measurement testing site shows significant model skill. A companion paper, Part II, will use the same RAMS simulations to describe the observations and modeling of the simultaneous mountain-windstorm-induced forest blowdown event.

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Michael P. Meyers
,
John S. Snook
,
Douglas A. Wesley
, and
Gregory S. Poulos

Abstract

A devastating winter storm affected the Rocky Mountain states over the 3-day period of 24–26 October 1997. Blizzard conditions persisted over the foothills and adjoining plains from Wyoming to southern New Mexico, with maximum total snowfall amounts near 1.5 m. (Part I of this two-part paper describes the observations and modeling of this blizzard event.) During the morning of 25 October 1997, wind gusts in excess of 50 m s−1 were estimated west of the Continental Divide near Steamboat Springs in northern Colorado. These winds flattened approximately 5300 ha (13 000 acres) of old-growth forest in the Routt National Forest and Mount Zirkel Wilderness. Observations, analysis, and numerical modeling were used to examine the kinematics of this extreme event. A high-resolution, local-area model (the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System) was used to investigate the ability of a local model to capture the timing and strength of the windstorm and the aforementioned blizzard. Results indicated that a synergistic combination of strong cross-barrier easterly flow; very cold lower-tropospheric air over Colorado, which modified the stability profile; and the presence of a critical layer led to devastating downslope winds. The high-resolution simulations demonstrated the potential for accurately capturing mesoscale spatial and temporal features of a downslope windstorm more than 1 day in advance. These simulations were quasi forecast in nature, because a combination of two 48-h Eta Model forecasts were used to specify the lateral boundary conditions. Increased predictive detail of the windstorm was also found by decreasing the horizontal grid spacing from 5 to 1.67 km in the local-area model simulations.

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Christopher C. Hennon
,
Philippe P. Papin
,
Christopher M. Zarzar
,
Jeremy R. Michael
,
J. Adam Caudill
,
Carson R. Douglas
,
Wesley C. Groetsema
,
John H. Lacy
,
Zachery D. Maye
,
Justin L. Reid
,
Mark A. Scales
,
Melissa D. Talley
, and
Charles N. Helms

Abstract

Tropical cloud clusters (TCCs) are traditionally defined as synoptic-scale areas of deep convection and associated cirrus outflow. They play a critical role in the energy balance of the tropics, releasing large amounts of latent heat high in the troposphere. If conditions are favorable, TCCs can develop into tropical cyclones (TCs), which put coastal populations at risk. Previous work, usually connected with large field campaigns, has investigated TCC characteristics over small areas and time periods. Recently, developments in satellite reanalysis and global best track assimilation have allowed for the creation of a much more extensive database of TCC activity. The authors use the TCC database to produce an extensive global analysis of TCCs, focusing on TCC climatology, variability, and genesis productivity (GP) over a 28-yr period (1982–2009). While global TCC frequency was fairly consistent over the time period, with relatively small interannual variability and no noticeable trend, regional analyses show a high degree of interannual variability with clear trends in some regions. Approximately 1600 TCCs develop around the globe each year; about 6.4% of those develop into TCs. The eastern North Pacific Ocean (EPAC) basin produces the highest number of TCCs (per unit area) in a given year, but the western North Pacific Ocean (WPAC) basin has the highest GP (~12%). Annual TCC frequency in some basins exhibits a strong correlation to sea surface temperatures (SSTs), particularly in the EPAC, North Atlantic Ocean, and WPAC. However, GP is not as sensitive to SST, supporting the hypothesis that the tropical cyclogenesis process is most sensitive to atmospheric dynamical considerations such as vertical wind shear and large-scale vorticity.

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