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  • Author or Editor: Jason M. Cordeira x
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Samuel M. Bartlett
and
Jason M. Cordeira

Abstract

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are synoptic-scale phenomena associated with long, narrow corridors of enhanced low-level water vapor transport. Landfalling ARs may produce numerous beneficial (e.g., drought amelioration and watershed recharge) and hazardous (e.g., flash flooding and heavy snow) impacts that may require the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue watches, warnings, and advisories (WWAs). Prior research on WWAs and ARs in California found that 50%–70% of days with flood-related and 60%–80% of days with winter weather–related WWAs occurred on days with landfalling ARs in California. The present study further investigates this relationship for landfalling ARs and WWAs during the cool seasons of 2006–18 across the entire western United States and considers additional dimensions of AR intensity and duration. Across the western United States, regional maxima of 70%–90% of days with WWAs issued for any hazard type were associated with landfalling ARs. In the Pacific Northwest and central regions, flood-related and wind-related WWAs were also more frequently associated with more intense and longer-duration ARs. While a large majority of days with WWAs were associated with landfalling ARs, not all landfalling ARs were necessarily associated with WWAs (i.e., not all ARs are hazardous). For example, regional maxima of only 50%–70% of AR days were associated with WWAs issued for any hazard type. However, as landfalling AR intensity and duration increased, the association with a WWA and the “hazard footprint” of WWAs increased quasi-exponentially across the western United States.

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Jason M. Cordeira
and
Lance F. Bosart

Abstract

This paper examines the cyclogenesis of the “Perfect Storms” of late October and early November 1991 over the North Atlantic and focuses on the influence of Hurricane Grace (HG) toward their development. The two storms considered are the “Perfect Storm” (PS) that underwent a warm seclusion process and an extratropical cyclone (EC1) with two development phases. HG, which initially formed via tropical transition (TT), influenced the first phase of EC1 via reduced atmospheric static stability and enhanced low-level baroclinicity. As a result, deep moist convection and latent heat release produced maxima in midtropospheric diabatic heating and lower-tropospheric potential vorticity (PV) that aided the development of EC1. Backward air parcel trajectories and large diabatic contributions to eddy available potential energy (APE) generation suggests that EC1 developed as a diabatic Rossby vortex (DRV)-like feature.

The second and explosively deepening phase of EC1 occurred as the cyclone coupled with an upper-tropospheric PV disturbance (PVD) over the eastern North Atlantic. Backward air parcel trajectories demonstrate the explosive deepening of EC1 involved airstreams originating from east of HG and from over the Labrador Sea. Parcel trajectories and a large baroclinic contribution to eddy APE generation further suggests that the two-phase development of EC1 may have involved a DRV-like feature.

The subsequent recurvature and extratropical transition (ET) of HG occurred in the warm sector of the PS downstream of a second upper-tropospheric PVD over the western North Atlantic. Reduced atmospheric static stability, enhanced warm air advection, and strong latent heat release during the recurvature and ET of HG contributed to the development of a strong, zonally oriented warm front and the warm seclusion of the PS. Parcel trajectory analysis demonstrates that the PS warm seclusion involved the isolation of air parcels by a bent-back warm front that were warmed via sensible heating from the underlying Gulf Stream.

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Jason M. Cordeira
and
Neil F. Laird

Abstract

It is generally understood that extensive regions of significant lake ice cover impact lake-effect (LE) snow storms by decreasing the upward heat and moisture fluxes from the lake surface; however, it is only recently that studies have been conducted to more thoroughly examine this relationship. This study provides the first examination of Great Lakes LE snow storms that developed in association with an extensively ice-covered lake. The LE snow events that occurred downwind of Lake Erie on 12–14 February 2003 and 28–31 January 2004 produced maximum snowfall totals of 43 and 64 cm in western New York state, respectively. The presence of widespread ice cover led these snows to be less anticipated than snowfalls from Lake Ontario, which had limited ice cover. For both events, a variety of ice-cover conditions and meso- and synoptic-scale factors (i) helped support LE snow storm development, (ii) lead to the transitions in LE convective type, and (iii) resulted in noteworthy snowfalls near Lake Erie. Thinner ice cover along with favorable fetch directions during the 2004 event likely aided the development of more significant snowband time periods and the resulting greater snowfall. Although Lake Erie had regions with lower ice concentration during the 2003 event, thicker ice cover was present across a greater area of the lake, fetch directions during lake-effect time periods were positioned over higher ice concentration regions, and snowbands had a shorter duration and impacted the same region to a lesser degree than the 2004 case.

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Jason M. Cordeira
and
Lance F. Bosart

Abstract

The “Perfect Storms” (PSs) were a series of three high-impact extratropical cyclones (ECs) that impacted North America and the North Atlantic in late October and early November 1991. The PSs included the Perfect Storm in the northwest Atlantic, a second EC over the North Atlantic that developed from the interaction of the PS with Hurricane Grace, and a third EC over North America commonly known as the “1991 Halloween Blizzard.” The PSs greatly impacted the North Atlantic and North America with large waves, coastal flooding, heavy snow, and accumulating ice, and they also provided an opportunity to investigate the physical processes that contributed to a downstream baroclinic development (DBD) episode across North America that culminated in the ECs.

Downstream baroclinic development resulted from an amplification of the large-scale flow over the North Pacific that was influenced by anomalous tropical convection, the recurvature and extratropical transition of western North Pacific Tropical Cyclones Orchid, Pat, and Ruth, and the subsequent evolution of the extratropical flow. The progression of DBD occurred following the development of a negative PNA regime and the generation of baroclinic instability over North America associated with equatorward-displaced potential vorticity anomalies and poleward-displaced corridors of high moisture content. An analysis of the eddy kinetic energy tendency equation demonstrated that the resulting baroclinic conversion of eddy available potential energy into eddy kinetic energy during the cyclogenesis process facilitated the progression of DBD across North America and the subsequent development of the ECs.

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Joseph A. Ricciotti
and
Jason M. Cordeira

Abstract

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are defined as corridors of enhanced integrated water vapor transport (IVT) and produce large fractions of annual precipitation in regions with complex terrain along the western coastlines of midlatitude continents (e.g., 30%–50% along the U.S. West Coast in California). This study investigates this relationship among landfalling ARs, IVT, and watershed mean areal precipitation (MAP) for a 38-yr period over California. On average, the daily average IVT magnitude at different coastal locations explains ∼34% of the variance in annual watershed MAP across 140 Hydrologic Unit Code 8 (HUC-8) watersheds with large spatial variability across California. Further investigation of the IVT magnitude and direction at coastal locations illustrated that accounting for water vapor transport direction increases the explained variance in annual MAP to an average of 45%, with highest values (∼65%) occurring in watersheds over Northern and coastal California. Similar investigation of the lower-tropospheric water vapor flux vector at 850 and 925 hPa revealed further increases in the explained variance in annual MAP to an average of >50%. The results of this study 1) emphasize the importance of both IVT direction and water vapor flux altitude to watershed MAP, 2) align well with previous studies for select locations that highlight the importance of upslope (i.e., lower tropospheric) water vapor flux during landfalling ARs and precipitation, and 3) motivate the development of AR-related and watershed-centric forecast tools that incorporate IVT direction and water vapor flux altitude parameters in addition to IVT magnitude.

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Jason M. Cordeira
and
F. Martin Ralph

Abstract

The ability to provide accurate forecasts and improve situational awareness of atmospheric rivers (ARs) is key to impact-based decision support services and applications such as forecast-informed reservoir operations. The purpose of this study is to quantify the cool-season water year skill for 2017–20 of the NCEP Global Ensemble Forecast System forecasts of integrated water vapor transport along the U.S. West Coast commonly observed during landfalling ARs. This skill is summarized for ensemble probability-over-threshold forecasts of integrated water vapor transport magnitudes ≥ 250 kg m−1 s−1 (referred to as P 250). The P 250 forecasts near North-Coastal California at 38°N, 123°W were reliable and successful at lead times of ~8–9 days with an average success ratio > 0.5 for P 250 forecasts ≥ 50% at lead times of 8 days and Brier skill scores > 0.1 at a lead time of 8–9 days. Skill and accuracy also varied as a function of latitude and event characteristics. The highest (lowest) success ratios and probability of detection values for P 250 forecasts ≥ 50% occurred on average across Northern California and Oregon (Southern California), whereas the average probability of detection of more intense and longer duration landfalling ARs was 0.1–0.2 higher than weaker and shorter duration events at lead times of 3–9 days. The potential for these forecasts to enhance situational awareness may also be improved, depending on individual applications, by allowing for flexibility in the location and time of verification; the success ratios increased 10%–30% at lead times of 5–10 days allowing for flexibility of ±1.0° latitude and ±6 h in verification.

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Carl J. Schreck III
,
Jason M. Cordeira
, and
David Margolin

Abstract

Tropical convection from the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) excites and amplifies extratropical Rossby waves around the globe. This forcing is reflected in teleconnection patterns like the Pacific–North American (PNA) pattern, and it can ultimately result in temperature anomalies over North America. Previous studies have not explored whether the extratropical response might vary from one MJO event to another. This study proposes a new index, the multivariate PNA (MVP), to identify variations in the extratropical waveguide over the North Pacific and North America that might affect the response to the MJO. The MVP is the first combined EOF of 20–100-day OLR, 850-hPa streamfunction, and 200-hPa streamfunction over the North Pacific and North America. The North American temperature patterns that follow each phase of the MJO change with the sign of the MVP. For example, real-time multivariate MJO (RMM) phase 5 usually leads to warm anomalies over eastern North America. This relationship was only found when the MVP was negative, and it was not associated with El Niño or La Niña. RMM phase 8, on the other hand, usually leads to cold anomalies. Those anomalies only occur if the MVP is positive, which happens somewhat more frequently during La Niña years. Composite analyses based on combinations of the MJO and the MVP show that variability in the Pacific jet and its associated wave breaking play a key role in determining whether and how the MJO affects North American temperatures.

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Jason M. Cordeira
,
F. Martin Ralph
, and
Benjamin J. Moore

Abstract

This study investigates the evolution of two zonally elongated atmospheric rivers (ARs) that produced >200 mm of rainfall over mountainous regions of Northern California in late October 2010. Synoptic-scale analysis and air parcel trajectory analysis indicate that the ARs developed within high-CAPE environments characterized by troposphere-deep ascent as water vapor was transported directly from western North Pacific tropical cyclones (TCs) toward the equatorward entrance region of an intensifying North Pacific jet stream (NPJ). The same ARs were subsequently maintained as water vapor was transported from extratropical and subtropical regions over the central and eastern North Pacific in an environment characterized by quasigeostrophic forcing for ascent and strong frontogenesis along the anticyclonic shear side of an intense and zonally extended NPJ. Although the ARs developed in conjunction with water vapor transported from regions near TCs and in the presence of troposphere-deep ascent, an atmospheric water vapor budget illustrates that decreases in integrated water vapor (IWV) via precipitation are largely offset by the horizontal aggregation of water vapor along the AR corridors via IWV flux convergence in the presence of frontogenesis. The frameworks used for investigations of predecessor rain events ahead of TCs and of interactions between recurving TCs and the NPJ are also utilized to illustrate many dynamically similar processes related to AR development and evolution. Similarities include the following: water vapor transport directly from a TC, troposphere-deep ascent in a high-CAPE environment beneath the equatorward entrance region of an intensifying upper-tropospheric jet streak, interactions between diabatic outflow and an upper-tropospheric jet streak, and strong frontogenesis.

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Matthew C. Sanders
,
Jason M. Cordeira
, and
Nicholas D. Metz

Abstract

Ice jams that occurred on the Pemigewasset River in central New Hampshire resulted in significant localized flooding on 26 February 2017 and 13 January 2018. Analyses of these two case studies shows that both ice jam events occurred in association with enhanced moisture transport characteristic of atmospheric rivers (ARs) that resulted in rain-on-snow, snowpack ablation, and rapid increases in streamflow across central New Hampshire. However, while the ice jams and ARs that preceded them were similar, the antecedent hydrometeorological characteristics of the region were different. The February 2017 event featured a “long melting period with low precipitation” scenario, with several days of warm (~5°–20°C) maximum surface temperatures that resulted in extensive snowmelt followed by short-duration, weak AR that produced ~10–15 mm of precipitation during a 6-h period prior to the formation of the ice jam. Alternatively, the January 2018 event featured a “short melting period with high precipitation” scenario with snowmelt that occurred primarily during a more intense and long-duration AR that produced >50 mm of rainfall during a 30-h period prior to the formation of the ice jam. Composite analysis of 20 ice jam events during 1981–2019 illustrates that 19 of 20 events were preceded by environments characterized by ARs along the U.S. East Coast and occur in association with a composite corridor of enhanced integrated water vapor > 25 mm collocated with integrated water vapor transport magnitudes > 600 kg m−1 s−1. Additional analyses suggest that most ice jams on the Pemigewasset River share many common synoptic-scale antecedent meteorological characteristics that may provide situational awareness for future events.

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Briana E. Stewart
,
Jason M. Cordeira
, and
F. Martin Ralph

Abstract

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are long and narrow regions in the atmosphere of enhanced integrated water vapor transport (IVT) and can produce extreme precipitation and high societal impacts. Reliable and skillful forecasts of landfalling ARs in the western United States are critical to hazard preparation and aid in decision support activities, such as Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO). The purpose of this study is to compare the cool-season water year skill of the NCEP Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) and ECMWF Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) forecasts of IVT along the U.S. West Coast for 2017–20. The skill is analyzed using probability-over-threshold forecasts of IVT magnitudes ≥ 250 kg m−1 s−1 (P 250) using contingency table skill metrics in coastal Northern California and along the west coast of North America. Analysis of P 250 with lead time (dProg/dt) found that the EPS provided ∼1 day of additional lead time for situational awareness over the GEFS at lead times of 6–10 days. Forecast skill analysis highlights that the EPS leads over the GEFS with success ratios 0.10–0.15 higher at lead times > 6 days for P 250 thresholds of ≥25% and ≥50%, while event-based skill analysis using the probability of detection (POD) found that both models were largely similar with minor latitudinal variations favoring higher POD for each model in different locations along the coast. The relative skill of the EPS over the GEFS is largely attributed to overforecasting by the GEFS at longer lead times and an increase in the false alarm ratio.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of the NCEP Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) and the ECMWF Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) in forecasting enhanced water vapor transport along the U.S. West Coast commonly associated with landfalling atmospheric rivers and heavy precipitation. The ensemble models allow us to calculate the probability that enhanced water vapor transport will occur, thereby providing situational awareness for decision-making, such as in hazard mitigation and water resource management. The results of this study indicate that the EPS model is on average more skillful than the GEFS model at lead times of ∼6–10 days with a higher success ratio and lower false alarm ratio.

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