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Jayesh Phadtare

Abstract

Chennai and its surrounding region received extreme rainfall on 1 December 2015. A rain gauge in the city recorded 494 mm of rainfall within a span of 24 h—at least a 100-yr event. The convective system was stationary over the coast during the event. This study analyzes how the Eastern Ghats orography and moist processes localized the rainfall. ERA-Interim data show a low-level easterly jet (LLEJ) over the adjacent ocean and a barrier jet over the coast during the event. A control simulation with the nonhydrostatic Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model shows that the Eastern Ghats obstructed the precipitation-driven cold pool from moving downstream, resulting in the cold pool piling up and remaining stationary in the upwind direction. The cold pool became weak over the ocean. It stratified the subcloud layer and decelerated the flow ahead of the orography; hence, the flow entered a blocked regime. Maximum deceleration of the winds and uplifting happened at the edge of the cold pool over the coast. Therefore, a stationary convective system and maximum rainfall occurred at the coast. As a result of orographic blocking, propagation of a low pressure system (LPS) was obstructed. Because of the topographic β effect, the LPS subsequently traveled a southward path. In a sensitivity experiment without the orography, the cold pool was swept downstream by the winds; clouds moved inland. In the second experiment with no evaporative cooling of rain, the cold pool did not form; flow, as well as clouds, moved over the orography.

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Jayesh Phadtare and G. S. Bhat

Abstract

Synoptic-scale weather systems are often responsible for initiating mesoscale convective systems (MCSs). Here, we explore how synoptic forcing influences MCS characteristics, such as the maximum size, lifespan, cloud-top height, propagation speed, and triggering over the Indian region. We used 30-min interval infrared (IR) data of the Indian Kalpana-1 geostationary satellite. Cloud systems (CSs) in this data are identified and tracked using an object tracking algorithm. ERA-Interim 850-hPa vorticity is taken as a proxy for the synoptic forcing. The probability of CSs being larger, longer lived, and deeper is more in the presence of a synoptic-scale vorticity field; however, the influence of synoptic forcing is not evident on the westward propagation of CSs over land. There exists a linear relationship between maximum size, lifespan, and average cloud-top height of CSs regardless of the nature of synoptic forcing. Formation of CSs peaks around 1500 LST over land, which is independent of synoptic forcing. Over the north Bay of Bengal, CSs formation is predominantly nocturnal when synoptic forcing is strong, whereas, 0300 and 1200 LST are the preferred times when synoptic forcing is weak. Long-lived CSs are preferentially triggered in the western flank of the 850-hPa vorticity gradient field of a monsoon low pressure system. Once triggered, CSs propagate westward and ahead of the synoptic system and dissipate around midnight. Formation of new CSs on the next day occurs in the afternoon hours in the wake of previous day’s CSs and where vorticity gradient is also present. Formation and westward propagations of CSs on successive days move the synoptic envelope westward.

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