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Evan A. Kalina, Katja Friedrich, Brian C. Motta, Wiebke Deierling, Geoffrey T. Stano, and Nezette N. Rydell

Abstract

Synoptic weather, S-band dual-polarization radar, and total lightning observations are analyzed from four thunderstorms that produced “plowable” hail accumulations of 15–60 cm in localized areas of the Colorado Front Range. Results indicate that moist, relatively slow (5–15 m s−1) southwesterly-to-westerly flow at 500 hPa and postfrontal low-level upslope flow, with 2-m dewpoint temperatures of 11°–19°C at 1200 LST, were present on each plowable hail day. This pattern resulted in column-integrated precipitable water values that were 132%–184% of the monthly means and freezing-level heights that were 100–700 m higher than average. Radar data indicate that between one and three maxima in reflectivity Z (68–75 dBZ) and 50-dBZ echo-top height (11–15 km MSL) occurred over the lifetime of each hailstorm. These maxima, which imply an enhancement in updraft strength, resulted in increased graupel and hail production and accumulating hail at the surface within 30 min of the highest echo tops. The hail core had Z ~ 70 dBZ, differential reflectivity Z DR from 0 to −4 dB, and correlation coefficient ρ HV of 0.80–0.95. Time–height plots reveal that these minima in Z DR and ρ HV gradually descended to the surface after originating at heights of 6–10 km MSL ~15–60 min prior to accumulating hailfall. Hail accumulations estimated from the radar data pinpoint the times and locations of plowable hail, with depths greater than 5 cm collocated with the plowable hail reports. Three of the four hail events were accompanied by lightning flash rates near the maximum observed thus far within the thunderstorm.

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Christopher B. Darden, David J. Nadler, Brian C. Carcione, Richard J. Blakeslee, Geoffrey T. Stano, and Dennis E. Buechler
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Chad M. Gravelle, John R. Mecikalski, William E. Line, Kristopher M. Bedka, Ralph A. Petersen, Justin M. Sieglaff, Geoffrey T. Stano, and Steven J. Goodman

Abstract

With the launch of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite–R (GOES-R) series in 2016, there will be continuity of observations for the current GOES system operating over the Western Hemisphere. The GOES-R Proving Ground was established in 2008 to help prepare satellite user communities for the enhanced capabilities of GOES-R, including new instruments, imagery, and products that will have increased spectral, spatial, and temporal resolution. This is accomplished through demonstration and evaluation of proxy products that use current GOES data, higher-resolution data provided by polar-orbiting satellites, and model-derived synthetic satellite imagery. The GOES-R demonstration products presented here, made available to forecasters in near–real time (within 20 min) via the GOES-R Proving Ground, include the 0–9-h NearCast model, 0–1-h convective initiation probabilities, convective cloud-top cooling, overshooting top detection, and a pseudo–Geostationary Lightning Mapper total lightning tendency diagnostic. These products are designed to assist in identifying areas of increasing convective instability, pre-radar echo cumulus cloud growth preceding thunderstorm formation, storm updraft intensity, and potential storm severity derived from lightning trends. In turn, they provide the warning forecaster with improved situational awareness and short-term predictive information that enhance their ability to monitor atmospheric conditions preceding and associated with the development of deep convection, a time period that typically occurs between the issuance of National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center convective watches and convective storm warnings issued by NWS forecast offices. This paper will focus on how this GOES-R satellite convective toolkit could have been used by warning forecasters to enhance near-storm environment analysis and the warning-decision-making process prior to and during the 20 May 2013 Moore, Oklahoma, tornado event.

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